min/maxing is hurting our game

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This is about a DnD 3.5 game, but the issue is generic.

We have a player that's very good at min/maxing. As we get to higher levels he tends to get way ahead of the party. At level 15 he can now basically handle nearly any published monster.

We played to level 20 before, and things to tend to get out of whack, but at that level his character became unstoppable. This time he's gotten even better at it, and already at level 15 it's a real problem.

We've got a new player (which is good), but he's proving quite the min/maxing apprentice, so this is doubling our problem.

There are three problems:
- It gets almost impossible for the DM to make something that's a challenge.
- Things that challenge de min/maxxer are almost sure to kill the rest of the party.
- There is somewhat of an arms race by the other players to try and stay relevant.

We rotate DM's so it's really a group issue. We're openly discussing how to continue, but maybe people here have found good solutions in the past.

There isn't a single of his abilities that's over powered, he's just very skilled at finding the best combinations. He's very good at Magic the Gathering as well because of that. But there isn't a single thing that I can point at and say that's the problem.

His current character has everything based on charisma (which I think he's got to 44). I think it's Bard/Druid/Mystic Wanderer/Green Whisperer/Arcane Hierophant. He's constantly buffing himself with all kinds of long duration buffs. He usually has more than 20 active. He's got so much dispelling protection that he's basically immune, except to antimagic and dead magic.

He likes playing this way and in general is someone I like having in the group. He's just so good at this that it eclipses the rest of the party and breaks what the mechanics of the game can handle.

We already have some houserules, but that's just a new set of constraints for him to min/max around.

We could limit the sources available, but that would hamper the other players maybe even more, he would probably just come up with something Druid, Cleric or Wizard based.

To a certain extent this is a problem of any higher level DnD 3.5 game, but he easily eclipses Tier 1 classes, like our Druid and Wizard. Our entire party is quite powerful lot's of Tier 1 and Tier 2 classes so general advice on how to keep higher level play working with a powerful group of characters is also welcome.

Has anyone ever come up with a houserule that somehow adjusts difficulty on a per player basis, or something like that?

5e should strongly stay away from "I don't like it, so you can't have it either."

 

I once asked the question (in D&D 3.5) "Does a Druid4/Wizard3/ArcaneHierophant1 have Wildshape?". Jesse Decker and Andy Collins: Yes and the text is clear and can't be interpreted differently. Rich Redman and Ed Stark: No and the text is clear and can't be interpreted differently. Skip Williams: Lol, it's worded ambiguously and entirely not how I intended it. (Cust. Serv. Reference# 050815-000323)

He should apply @ WotC........  Sounds like a good guy to think up new powers, spells, weapons, and such.....

Anyway, yeah.....  We have a guy in our group that's way more knowledgeable than the rest of us....  It hinders a little, but sorry, not to the extent it sounds like you're dealing with. 

At least he sounds like a good guy and not a tool......

Sorry I couldn't be of more assistance!
First, make sure he's actually following the rules.

If he is, you could ask the "min/maxer" for his help on bringing the rest of the party up to a more effective mechanical level. This would put the characters on more equal footing (as much as 3.5 will allow, anyway) and then the DM can up the ante on the encounters. This "min/maxer" may also have ideas on how to adjust encounters. To offset any mistakes in scaling, the DM can make the encounters less about one side killing the other and more about each side attaining particular primary goals. In doing so, he can screw up on the difficulty rating and not worry about it. That's good advice in any event, but doubly so while adjusting to changes in the game's power level.

If the group resists that sort of change (and this is a time to be honest about why), then you can ask him to tone it down. He may agree that things have gotten too easy or he doesn't like watching his companions sit on their duffs, bored, while he does the heavy-lifting. If he doesn't want to do it, any kind of house rule to limit his power level may be seen as punitive.

Compromise is necessary here, though if I were you guys, I would try to learn how to "min/max" myself than try to limit a fellow player's ingenuity. It's an opportunity for everyone to learn something new, and that's a good thing in my book.

No amount of tips, tricks, or gimmicks will ever be better than simply talking directly to your fellow players to resolve your issues.
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Have you tried asking him to tone it down a little?  It couldn't hurt.  He should at least be willing to make an attempt to comprise for the fun of the group.

Alternatively, if he likes min-maxing to the extremes that much, you could suggest that he min-maxes something that's inherently less powerful or spotlight-stealing.  You could present it as a challenge to his min-maxing skills.  How well could he min-max a single-classed dragon shaman?  Or a build dedicated to buffing allies.  Or a monk.  Or a build limited to a smaller selection of books.  Ect, and so on. 
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First, make sure he's actually following the rules.


He is following the rules. I can even create his character in PCGen quite easily and the numbers do add up. He's got a very good memory and knows nearly all of DnD 3.5 by heart. He's a walking Rules Compendium, Spell Compendium and all Monster Manuals in one.
The problem is that the rules were never meant for the kind of things he uses them for. His current character is CHA based. He found everything he can from the books that was supposed to buff Bard and then combines it with the easy to abuse Polymorph. Our houseruling is about Polymorph, very much restricting the use of items, so he just went with buffs instead.
But he has had a Diplomacy optimized character and a Charge based character before.
He's just very good at using the weak spots in the game rules.

If he is, you could ask the "min/maxer" for his help on bringing the rest of the party up to a more effective mechanical level. This would put the characters on more equal footing (as much as 3.5 will allow, anyway) and then the DM can up the ante on the encounters.

He did that for the new player we got and it ended up being the second character to break the game.
The problem is that there is a limit to how far the DM can up the ante and keep things working. The line between not a challenge and total party kill becomes too narrow. And we're running into the point that only greater gods would still be a challenge. It's just just becoming incredulous. There are only so many times that you can kill the whole pantheon.
The main danger right now is from abilities that work on the number of HD and allow no safe, like Epic Spellcasters using Blasphemy.

This "min/maxer" may also have ideas on how to adjust encounters. To offset any mistakes in scaling, the DM can make the encounters less about one side killing the other and more about each side attaining particular primary goals. In doing so, he can screw up on the difficulty rating and not worry about it. That's good advice in any event, but doubly so while adjusting to changes in the game's power level.

There might be some idea in here.

If the group resists that sort of change (and this is a time to be honest about why), then you can ask him to tone it down. He may agree that things have gotten too easy or he doesn't like watching his companions sit on their duffs, bored, while he does the heavy-lifting. If he doesn't want to do it, any kind of house rule to limit his power level may be seen as punitive.


Yes we don't want to introduce rules that feel punitive. That's why I came here to see if people knew any other options.

Compromise is necessary here, though if I were you guys, I would try to learn how to "min/max" myself than try to limit a fellow player's ingenuity. It's an opportunity for everyone to learn something new, and that's a good thing in my book.



The main difference is that he starts from a mechanically strong concept and then figures out a character around that, while the others start with a character concept and then try to make it work mechanically. He's just got a big head start mechanically.
And the rest of the party has been taking advice from him, they are behind on the power curve, but would also be breaking the game in a few levels.

Have you tried asking him to tone it down a little?  It couldn't hurt.  He should at least be willing to make an attempt to comprise for the fun of the group.

I posted this message because it's exactly the discussion we're having right now, and I wanted to pick the brains of the community for solutions.

Alternatively, if he likes min-maxing to the extremes that much, you could suggest that he min-maxes something that's inherently less powerful or spotlight-stealing.  You could present it as a challenge to his min-maxing skills.  How well could he min-max a single-classed dragon shaman?  Or a build dedicated to buffing allies.  Or a monk.

He would never play a monk. We talked about it. In general he starts looking almost nausiated when discussing any option that's mechanically suboptimal. Mentioning monk makes him shiver and almost puke. It's actually funny to watch. The weakest character he's played was a Warlock and that was when we challenged him to play a really weak character. He obviously enjoys himself more if he plays a mechanically stronger character.
 
Or a build limited to a smaller selection of books.  Ect, and so on. 

We found that this limits the other players much more than it limits him. It does bring down the overall power level a bit. The PHB has the Druid, Cleric and Wizard, he doesn't need much more than that.

He's very good at optimizing the mechanics of this game (and others) to his advantage. His main weakness is that he starts from the mechanics and then builds a character around that, leading to sometimes somewhat convoluted backgrounds and role-play problems. But he's getting better at that too, and it's not really any worse than the other players.

5e should strongly stay away from "I don't like it, so you can't have it either."

 

I once asked the question (in D&D 3.5) "Does a Druid4/Wizard3/ArcaneHierophant1 have Wildshape?". Jesse Decker and Andy Collins: Yes and the text is clear and can't be interpreted differently. Rich Redman and Ed Stark: No and the text is clear and can't be interpreted differently. Skip Williams: Lol, it's worded ambiguously and entirely not how I intended it. (Cust. Serv. Reference# 050815-000323)

This sounds like a case of fear of failure. Having a lot of buffs going which make the character untouchable probably means the player feels like he needs to use the game's mechanics to prevent his character from dying. Unfortunately, this has two undesirable side effects:

1. His character is much more powerful than the rest of the characters, thereby making it hard for the DM to create an appropriate challenge.
2. He is creating an arms race between himself, the DM and the rest of the group because the game is no fun if your character is never threatened.

There are two things your group can do.
First, like was suggested above, ask him to tone it down and/or find a niche to optimize (like a normally subpar class).

EDIT: but I see that the very thought makes him physically ill Smile

Second, the DM can let the players participate in coming up with the story and the encounters, emphasizing that they need to be interesting. For a short primer on this, read the link in iserith's signature on Collaborative Roleplay (three posts up). When done correctly, this will lead to a story and encounters that are challenging for everyone (since everyone knows their own strengths and weaknesses best). And you get the side benefit of taking away some of the failure mitigation.

Just ask the players to emphasize on the challenge and the danger, and make sure the player separates his role as a storyteller from his role as a player.
A conversation is definitely necessary, so I'm glad you're having that.

I recommend finding out what the player thinks will happen, or what it means, if his character is "sub-optimal." Is he worried that the character will die? That the game will bog down in boring failure? That he will be blamed for not carrying his weight? That he just won't be praised for carrying more than his weight? All of those issues can be addressed, though some aren't things that players can do unilaterally, without the DM making changes.

If the player is not responsive to conversation and no compromise can be reached on power level (I don't recommend everyone optimizing to his level, if the DM already can't cope with him), then I would say that the group is just not a good one and you should leave.

[N]o difference is less easily overcome than the difference of opinion about semi-abstract questions. - L. Tolstoy

He did that for the new player we got and it ended up being the second character to break the game.
The problem is that there is a limit to how far the DM can up the ante and keep things working. The line between not a challenge and total party kill becomes too narrow. And we're running into the point that only greater gods would still be a challenge. It's just just becoming incredulous. There are only so many times that you can kill the whole pantheon.



I ran 3.X for 8 years before 4e came out and all of the PCs were heavy optimizers. I was still able to challenge them and one of them in particular could summon a ridiculous number of undead creatures. It can be done and it needn't be a matter of killing gods and such. If I could remember how I did that mechanically (haven't touched the game since 4e came out), I'd give you some tips, but then that would be DM advice anyway.

He's very good at optimizing the mechanics of this game (and others) to his advantage. His main weakness is that he starts from the mechanics and then builds a character around that, leading to sometimes somewhat convoluted backgrounds and role-play problems. But he's getting better at that too, and it's not really any worse than the other players.



Here's where I see the real problem: It sounds like there is an objection on its face to optimization, period. Maybe even that old "roleplayer vs. rollplayer" canard. That's a problem of perception and something you can control and change about yourself, if you want. It really does look like there's a "min/maxers are bad" objection here since you refer to the way he builds his concepts as a "weakness."

No amount of tips, tricks, or gimmicks will ever be better than simply talking directly to your fellow players to resolve your issues.
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"Rollplayer vs. roleplayer" is a canard, yes, except when what the "roleplayer" really wants is to play the role of a member of a group that finds itself challenged by desperate odds. That's difficult to arrange via one's own character decisions, so such a player must bring everyone's playstyle around to accommodate that.

I'm not sure that's what's happening here, though I get the impression that the non-optimizers would happy with their ability to beat challenges, without the optimizer, which implies that the optimizer is stepping on their toes. This may be an intractable conflict. A conversation should reveal whether it is or not.

If the DM is receptive for ideas of non-traditional (except for every action movie ever made) encounters that can be challenging but not a complete party-wipe, have them ask about it on the What's a DM to Do? forum.

[N]o difference is less easily overcome than the difference of opinion about semi-abstract questions. - L. Tolstoy

"Rollplayer vs. roleplayer" is a canard, yes, except when what the "roleplayer" really wants is to play the role of a member of a group that finds itself challenged by desperate odds. That's difficult to arrange via one's own character decisions, so such a player must bring everyone's playstyle around to accommodate that.

I'm not sure that's what's happening here, though I get the impression that the non-optimizers would happy with their ability to beat challenges, without the optimizer, which implies that the optimizer is stepping on their toes.



That it's a difference in game expectations is true, as is the fact that a conversation is required. But I detect an undertone here of intolerance to system mastery in general. The system itself has much to do with the inherent problems, naturally, as the OP has indicated. Still, there are those who look upon "min/maxers" (and use of that term in particular is often indicative of this mindset) as somehow not as "good" as those who don't "min/max." This is something people of that mindset - if this is indeed at play here - can change since it is something about themselves they can control.

No amount of tips, tricks, or gimmicks will ever be better than simply talking directly to your fellow players to resolve your issues.
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Still, there are those who look upon "min/maxers" (and use of that term in particular is often indicative of this mindset) as somehow not as "good" as those who don't "min/max." This is something people of that mindset - if this is indeed at play here - can change since it is something about themselves they can control.

Yes, I can understand that mindset, and can admit to holding it myself. Even though it takes system mastery to optimize, optimizing seems like playing on Easy mode.

Edit: there's nothing wrong with playing on Easy mode, especially if one just wants to get through the game and see how certain things work. But it's a problem if doing so eliminates the challenge that others are seeking. And the challenge they're seeking is a problem if it eliminates the chance to get through the game and see how certain things work.

[N]o difference is less easily overcome than the difference of opinion about semi-abstract questions. - L. Tolstoy

I don't want to get into a discussion if min/maxxing is bad. I think to a certain extent the game expects you to do it.

The main problem we're having is that this guy is really good at it and as a result breaks the game. It's mainly a complaint about the game not being robust enough to handle this.

So I'm looking for houserules and other suggestions to make DnD 3.5 playable with min/maxxing.

To give you an idea: at level 16 he's got around 250 HP, AC around 90+, touch AC 60+, saves in the low to mid 30's, around 40 attack bonus, and regularly does 200+ damage. He can't be dispelled with Greater Dispel Magic and has lot's of other defenses.

The charger he helped build often does nearly 300 damage, knocks things back 60+ feet, makes them prone and stuns them. He just killed Orcus in two rounds.

And then we still have a Druid, Wizard, Ranger, Master of Many Forms.

I don't have up-to-date character sheets or I would give exact stats, but this is the general idea.

Anything below CR 25 can be dead in a single round. Only powerful spellcasters can be a problem, if they use things without a save or touch attack or target the weaker party members.

Several ideas have bounced around already. From having the entire party basically play permanently with neative levels, or making no bonuses stack any more, or banning polymorph or transmutation in general. Drastic things.

Basically we otherwise roll new characters and start at level 1 again, but level 16 feels a bit early for that. We shouldn't have broken the game yet nd high levels are fun because you have more options and versatility.

5e should strongly stay away from "I don't like it, so you can't have it either."

 

I once asked the question (in D&D 3.5) "Does a Druid4/Wizard3/ArcaneHierophant1 have Wildshape?". Jesse Decker and Andy Collins: Yes and the text is clear and can't be interpreted differently. Rich Redman and Ed Stark: No and the text is clear and can't be interpreted differently. Skip Williams: Lol, it's worded ambiguously and entirely not how I intended it. (Cust. Serv. Reference# 050815-000323)


Basically we otherwise roll new characters and start at level 1 again, but level 16 feels a bit early for that. We shouldn't have broken the game yet nd high levels are fun because you have more options and versatility.


 If you've gotten to that point then it's obviously not too early for it.


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The main problem we're having is that this guy is really good at it and as a result breaks the game. It's mainly a complaint about the game not being robust enough to handle this.

So I'm looking for houserules and other suggestions to make DnD 3.5 playable with min/maxxing.

Send your DM to the What's a DM to Do forum. There's nothing a player can do to deal with issues caused by optimization.

(Well, they can optimize themselves, but that's just lets them join in with the breakage of the game.)

[N]o difference is less easily overcome than the difference of opinion about semi-abstract questions. - L. Tolstoy



So I'm looking for houserules and other suggestions to make DnD 3.5 playable with min/maxxing.



Ban the cleric, druid and wizard (and psion and artificer if available).
Go through the spell list and take out every save-or-die and plot-breaking spell.  Polymorph counts.

That's a start.
Another day, another three or four entries to my Ignore List.
The main problem we're having is that this guy is really good at it and as a result breaks the game. It's mainly a complaint about the game not being robust enough to handle this.

So I'm looking for houserules and other suggestions to make DnD 3.5 playable with min/maxxing.

Send your DM to the What's a DM to Do forum. There's nothing a player can do to deal with issues caused by optimization.

(Well, they can optimize themselves, but that's just lets them join in with the breakage of the game.)

We have rotating DMs. I was the DM when the party killed Orcus and now the new DM has basically started the discussion if we should even continue as things are getting quite broken.



So I'm looking for houserules and other suggestions to make DnD 3.5 playable with min/maxxing.



Ban the cleric, druid and wizard (and psion and artificer if available).
Go through the spell list and take out every save-or-die and plot-breaking spell.  Polymorph counts.

That's a start.

I don't think that solves anything. This guy has made other characters before that didn't touch any of those things. One was a diplomacy optimized paladin/marshall/evangelist the other was a Barbarian/Fighter/Totemist/stoneblessed/battlerager/deepwarden/tribal protector/rogue.

I need a more general way to nerf min/maxing instead of creating a patchwork of houserules. One of the things I suggested to the group is to completely get rid of stacking.

5e should strongly stay away from "I don't like it, so you can't have it either."

 

I once asked the question (in D&D 3.5) "Does a Druid4/Wizard3/ArcaneHierophant1 have Wildshape?". Jesse Decker and Andy Collins: Yes and the text is clear and can't be interpreted differently. Rich Redman and Ed Stark: No and the text is clear and can't be interpreted differently. Skip Williams: Lol, it's worded ambiguously and entirely not how I intended it. (Cust. Serv. Reference# 050815-000323)

We have rotating DMs. I was the DM when the party killed Orcus and now the new DM has basically started the discussion if we should even continue as things are getting quite broken.

Then you sould all go the other forum. This is not a player issue, really.

[N]o difference is less easily overcome than the difference of opinion about semi-abstract questions. - L. Tolstoy

We have rotating DMs. I was the DM when the party killed Orcus and now the new DM has basically started the discussion if we should even continue as things are getting quite broken.

Then you sould all go the other forum. This is not a player issue, really.


It's a bit of lot's of things. It's about how we should handle this as a group, what a DM can do with it, a rules discussion and it's related to a previous edition.

As we as the players are trying to come up with solutions by discussing this together, I thought the most appropriate place to post it would be here, but other subforums were definitely an option as well. and the other players are aware of this thread. I don't think they have accounts though.

5e should strongly stay away from "I don't like it, so you can't have it either."

 

I once asked the question (in D&D 3.5) "Does a Druid4/Wizard3/ArcaneHierophant1 have Wildshape?". Jesse Decker and Andy Collins: Yes and the text is clear and can't be interpreted differently. Rich Redman and Ed Stark: No and the text is clear and can't be interpreted differently. Skip Williams: Lol, it's worded ambiguously and entirely not how I intended it. (Cust. Serv. Reference# 050815-000323)

Is there a chance the group might take this opportunity to switch to 4e (or some other game system)? Optimization is still a thing in 4e, but I find it's less an issue compared to 3.X. There's also Dragon Age, 13th Age, Dungeon World, and many more... sky's the limit on fantasy RPGs and there are some really clever game design going on out there these days.

No amount of tips, tricks, or gimmicks will ever be better than simply talking directly to your fellow players to resolve your issues.
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I for one am on the side or Roleplayers; I find Min/Max players a pain, We have one at our table currently and it shows; he is killing 3 out of 6 monsters in an encounter (stealth/archer/rouge), but I can see his face light up each time he rolls his dice; on the flip side he is often distracted during non-combat situations and dosn't seem to get the joy out of it that the rest of the party does (not only a 4 man party)


I think it should be obvious by now from past postsers; but there are in my mind two types of players, and they just don't mesh WELL; they do mesh and many, many a table has been comprised of Rollplayers and Roleplayers, but It alaways seems to make it a pain for the DM, as well it makes tension in the party.

Sadly nothing can really be done without "ruining" one persons time; you can have the Rollplayer do more RP but then they won't enjoy it, and Roleplayers just not intrested enough to min/max their games.

One solution is have the Min/Max player create everyones sheet (ppl tell him what they want to play (race/class and he makes the best option) but something about this leaves a bad taste in my mouth.    

Sry no better advice, but seems like your group has fallen into a common issue with all games of the DnD class. 

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Sadly nothing can really be done without "ruining" one persons time; you can have the Rollplayer do more RP but then they won't enjoy it, and Roleplayers just not intrested enough to min/max their games.

It's not a combat vs. non-combat issue. Non-optimizers can enjoy combat, but they might enjoy combat that isn't a cinch. Optimizers feel like it's boring and a sign of foolishness to leave oneself open to failure, and so they make sure they can succeed by the widest possible margin. This can be handled, though conversation, and a re-examination of what success and failure mean.

Gamers should never assume that the rules of the game will be enough to make the game fun, especially when others are involved. Compromise and judgment will always be involved.

[N]o difference is less easily overcome than the difference of opinion about semi-abstract questions. - L. Tolstoy

I for one am on the side or Roleplayers; I find Min/Max players a pain, We have one at our table currently and it shows; he is killing 3 out of 6 monsters in an encounter (stealth/archer/rouge), but I can see his face light up each time he rolls his dice;



Isn't he roleplaying his character - a skilled combatant in the context of a fantasy world - in combat situations? If you've built your character to be a killing machine and you kill half the monsters in the scene, then you're playing your role pretty well, I'd say.

Why do you find him a pain, if you're "on the side of roleplayers?"

on the flip side he is often distracted during non-combat situations and dosn't seem to get the joy out of it that the rest of the party does (not only a 4 man party)



Perhaps because the scenes without combat don't have the same stakes for his character, or even very interesting stakes at all which bores the player. (The latter is a DM failure. Even a "talking" scene should have some compelling question to be answered.) That doesn't make him any less of a roleplayer.

I think it should be obvious by now from past postsers; but there are in my mind two types of players, and they just don't mesh WELL; they do mesh and many, many a table has been comprised of Rollplayers and Roleplayers, but It alaways seems to make it a pain for the DM, as well it makes tension in the party.



I disagree. That's a false division imposed upon the hobby by some people in it. It should end. It helps nobody to make that distinction.

Sadly nothing can really be done without "ruining" one persons time; you can have the Rollplayer do more RP but then they won't enjoy it, and Roleplayers just not intrested enough to min/max their games.

One solution is have the Min/Max player create everyones sheet (ppl tell him what they want to play (race/class and he makes the best option) but something about this leaves a bad taste in my mouth.    

Sry no better advice, but seems like your group has fallen into a common issue with all games of the DnD class. 



Since in-character interaction - which I assume is what you're talking about when you're referring to "roleplaying" - is divorced from most mechanics, then it's a very simple matter to change your mechanics to suit the needs of others while keeping your character's personality or the like intact. It would simply require the people who call themselves "roleplayers" and refer to everyone else as "rollplayers" to get over their visceral objections to system mastery.

No amount of tips, tricks, or gimmicks will ever be better than simply talking directly to your fellow players to resolve your issues.
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There are two house rules I use to try to limit min/maxing from the start (and my players always seem to buy into them):

1. I encourage players to create their characters with one sub-10 ability score.  I find that this encourages role-playing.  I do not require it, but I do highly recommend it from my players.  My reason behind it is that heroes of myth, legend, and history, and even fiction invariably have a flaw of some sort.  As player characters are at least somewhat intended to emulate those heroes of time, (to me) it makes sense that they should have a flaw as well.

2. I impose maximum ability score limits, at character generation: either two 18s or one 19 AFTER racial modifiers.  I have adjusted these limits over the years and have found that these are the sweet spot where low level characters can excel in what they are best at, but still be challenged by level appropriate CRs.  And as they level up, magic items that increase ability scores do not send them into the stratosphere.

A third house rule I have is a limit on what magic items are readily available for purchase.  My limit is 8000 gold (source book value).  If a player wants an item that costs more than that, then they can still get it, but maybe they have to go to a specific city in a specific kingdom to a specific merchant who may or may not have it, but they know where to get it (AKA plot hook Wink).  Again, my players are usually OK with this limitation.

Getting to the OP's quandary...These house rules will not help in your current campaign, but maybe when you start anew you could try them and see if they help.  But they do somewhat depend on what level of point buy your group uses.  Or do you roll dice?

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RedSiegfried wrote:
The cool thing is, you don't even NEED a reason to say yes.  Just stop looking for a reason to say no.
1. I encourage players to create their characters with one sub-10 ability score.  I find that this encourages role-playing.  I do not require it, but I do highly recommend it from my players.  My reason behind it is that heroes of myth, legend, and history, and even fiction invariably have a flaw of some sort.  As player characters are at least somewhat intended to emulate those heroes of time, (to me) it makes sense that they should have a flaw as well.

Low ability scores are easy enough to get around, and it's questionable to require someone to roleplay low Intelligence as a dullard, when someone else is not hindered in the slightest by low Strength.

But you get to a key point about one type of roleplaying: Failure and getting into trouble are interesting. Modern story games are built entirely around this concept, and in those games one can't optimize without one's character suffering downsides during play. But in typical D&D style play, weaknesses are expected to be minimized and downplayed and, say, picking on the low-Int fighter is somewhat poor form. Challenging combat is expected, but if players feel challenged they often feel like they've made a mistake and will try not to make that same mistake again. If a player doesn't feel good about a high chance of failure, they will avoid it and there's no in-game downside for that.

[N]o difference is less easily overcome than the difference of opinion about semi-abstract questions. - L. Tolstoy

There are two house rules I use to try to limit min/maxing from the start (and my players always seem to buy into them):

1. I encourage players to create their characters with one sub-10 ability score.  I find that this encourages role-playing.  I do not require it, but I do highly recommend it from my players.  My reason behind it is that heroes of myth, legend, and history, and even fiction invariably have a flaw of some sort.  As player characters are at least somewhat intended to emulate those heroes of time, (to me) it makes sense that they should have a flaw as well.

2. I impose maximum ability score limits, at character generation: either two 18s or one 19 AFTER racial modifiers.  I have adjusted these limits over the years and have found that these are the sweet spot where low level characters can excel in what they are best at, but still be challenged by level appropriate CRs.

Getting to the OP's quandary...These house rules will not help in your current campaign, but maybe when you start anew you could try them and see if they help.  But they do somewhat depend on what level of point buy your group uses.  Or do you roll dice?



Well if you're talking about 4E these houserules are not actually houserules. 

1.  Starting with a score under 10 is completely legal in 4e, to a maximum of 1 ability score under 10.  This is actually standard optimization since all builds will have at least one dead score (meaning it is completely useless to the build).

2.  It's impossible to get ability scores higher than 18/18 or one score of 20 if you don't roll for stats in 4E after racial bonuses, maybe 21 or one at 19 but I've never bothered.  There's just not enough points.  So again, not so much a houserule as just the standard.  In fact having two scores at 18 and one at say 13 or having the remaining points spread out is the most recommended way to spread out your points.  Having a 20 and remaining points to cover feat requirements for example is also highly recommended for builds that don't have a secondary primary or a high secondary (wizards, most rogues, etc). 

So for all intensive purposes if you've been playing 4E, you've been playing by the standard / actual rules but more importantly, you've been giving a player wanting to optimize pretty much what they would want in the first place.
"Non nobis Domine Sed nomini tuo da gloriam" "I wish for death not because I want to die, but because I seek the war eternal"

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I need a more general way to nerf min/maxing instead of creating a patchwork of houserules. One of the things I suggested to the group is to completely get rid of stacking.


What will that solve? The optimizer (I loathe the term min/maxer) probably won't like his characters being nerfed, so this just creates tension. He will likely find a way around it anyway, so in a few weeks you're back where you started. Again, creating an arms race. 

This is not a problem you can solve by changing the rules. I'd try to either

a) come to a compromise between the optimizers and non-optimizers

b) make the DM step up his game. You can create more difficult encounters by using multiple waves of enemies, using effects that specifically target the optimizer's weaknesses, introducing alternate goals, etc. 

c) include the optimizer and the other players in coming up with challenging encounters. But I already said that in my earlier post.

@iserith


I don’t think participating in combat is considered role-playing, as much as it is playing a part of the game. He isn’t narrating his moves or actions, just saying which power he will use then rolls. I understand this can get into a grey area, since I to have a warrior in another game and I understand the he is combat prone.


I find it a pain, because he hasn’t invested into his character very much beyond the mechanics of it, his back-story is just a few lines, and his general In Character interaction with the rest of the party is limited to say. He basically is a wall flower in any scene but combat, when he comes alive (but not to get into his character, but so he can NOVA roll)


I disagree that it’s a false division; I have talked to him outside the game (friendly since I do consider him a friend even though he irks me at the table) and he even said himself he is more interested in the combat and tactics aspect of the game then he is in Role-playing a fantasy setting (note he is the kinda gamer that loves Turn based strategy games and WH40k)


Saying that everyone is a Role-player is just wrong, he is a Roll-player, he knows it and I know it. That being said I still believe you can have a fun game with both types of players, it just makes things abit touch and go.


After the talk he said he understands my concerns and said he is going to try to speak in character more and get involved in social scenes, after talking with our DM the DM said he is going to try to work more Skill Challenges into non-combat that he can participate as well. On the flip side he has offered to help work with the rest of the parties character sheets so the DM can more freely drop some bigger baddies.


I think it’s a spectrum, much like politics, there IS a Left and a Right (Roleplayer and Rollplayer), and not everyone is at the far end of the spectrum, most are somewhere in the middle; my table just happens to have two people are both the far ends of opposite sides.

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I've seen this in a few other threads so I'm curious: what does him playing Warhammer have to do with anything? I've played Warhammer since I was about 8 and I can play D&D perfectly fine...
Spiteful Wizard and Voice of Reason of the House of Trolls The Silent God of the House of Trolls Unfrozen OTTer Arbiter of the House of Trolls Yes, I have many titles. Deal with it.

I am just pointing out that he has a tendency to play more Tactics based games outside of DnD because that’s what he enjoys, I’m not saying that WH40k players are automatically Rollplayers; but I thinkyou see it  a lot because WH40k and games like it have a tendency to draw players who are tactics/combat oriented (Since that’s the theme of the game) I know that’s a huge stereotype but that’s how it is.


Note: I have played WH40K as well and enjoyed it a lot

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There are two house rules I use to try to limit min/maxing from the start (and my players always seem to buy into them):

1. I encourage players to create their characters with one sub-10 ability score.  I find that this encourages role-playing.  I do not require it, but I do highly recommend it from my players.  My reason behind it is that heroes of myth, legend, and history, and even fiction invariably have a flaw of some sort.  As player characters are at least somewhat intended to emulate those heroes of time, (to me) it makes sense that they should have a flaw as well.

2. I impose maximum ability score limits, at character generation: either two 18s or one 19 AFTER racial modifiers.  I have adjusted these limits over the years and have found that these are the sweet spot where low level characters can excel in what they are best at, but still be challenged by level appropriate CRs.

Getting to the OP's quandary...These house rules will not help in your current campaign, but maybe when you start anew you could try them and see if they help.  But they do somewhat depend on what level of point buy your group uses.  Or do you roll dice?



Well if you're talking about 4E these houserules are not actually houserules. 

1.  Starting with a score under 10 is completely legal in 4e, to a maximum of 1 ability score under 10.  This is actually standard optimization since all builds will have at least one dead score (meaning it is completely useless to the build).

2.  It's impossible to get ability scores higher than 18/18 or one score of 20 if you don't roll for stats in 4E after racial bonuses, maybe 21 or one at 19 but I've never bothered.  There's just not enough points.  So again, not so much a houserule as just the standard.  In fact having two scores at 18 and one at say 13 or having the remaining points spread out is the most recommended way to spread out your points.  Having a 20 and remaining points to cover feat requirements for example is also highly recommended for builds that don't have a secondary primary or a high secondary (wizards, most rogues, etc). 

So for all intensive purposes if you've been playing 4E, you've been playing by the standard / actual rules but more importantly, you've been giving a player wanting to optimize pretty much what they would want in the first place.



I run 3.5e and the OP is doing the same:

This is about a DnD 3.5 game, but the issue is generic



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RedSiegfried wrote:
The cool thing is, you don't even NEED a reason to say yes.  Just stop looking for a reason to say no.
I don’t think participating in combat is considered role-playing, as much as it is playing a part of the game.



Any time you as a player would make a decision that your character would also make, whether that's talking to the king, bantering with your companions in the tavern, or swinging a sword to take the head off an orc, you are roleplaying.

He isn’t narrating his moves or actions, just saying which power he will use then rolls. I understand this can get into a grey area, since I to have a warrior in another game and I understand the he is combat prone.



This is a type of roleplaying - first or third-person narration. That he isn't doing it doesn't mean he's not roleplaying in other ways.

I find it a pain, because he hasn’t invested into his character very much beyond the mechanics of it, his back-story is just a few lines, and his general In Character interaction with the rest of the party is limited to say. He basically is a wall flower in any scene but combat, when he comes alive (but not to get into his character, but so he can NOVA roll)



Again, this doesn't make him any less of a roleplayer. In-character interaction is a form of roleplaying. It's more accurate and less divisive to say that you prefer your players to engage in more in-character interaction than to put them into camps of "roleplayer" and "rollplayer." It's pejorative in many ways. 

Backstories are overrated anyway. The DM is often better bringing out those details during play through leading questions. Said questions can also encourage character investment. Give me 20 minutes at the start of the session with any group and we'll turn a collection of stats into a viable party with a history, goals, and drama.

I disagree that it’s a false division; I have talked to him outside the game (friendly since I do consider him a friend even though he irks me at the table) and he even said himself he is more interested in the combat and tactics aspect of the game then he is in Role-playing a fantasy setting (note he is the kinda gamer that loves Turn based strategy games and WH40k)



Your assertion about "roleplaying and rollplaying" is so common that it's not a surprise to me that even he has bought into that false division. He's roleplaying. He's just not roleplaying as much in certain ways that you prefer.

Saying that everyone is a Role-player is just wrong, he is a Roll-player, he knows it and I know it. That being said I still believe you can have a fun game with both types of players, it just makes things abit touch and go.



Not everyone is a roleplayer. I defined roleplaying above. If you're not making decisions your character would also make, then you're not roleplaying. A player that sees to it his fighter swings a sword to kill half the enemies in the scene is playing his role well and is therefore roleplaying. If he doesn't narrate it well or engage in in-character interaction has nothing to do with whether he's roleplaying.

After the talk he said he understands my concerns and said he is going to try to speak in character more and get involved in social scenes, after talking with our DM the DM said he is going to try to work more Skill Challenges into non-combat that he can participate as well. On the flip side he has offered to help work with the rest of the parties character sheets so the DM can more freely drop some bigger baddies.



It's good that you had a talk and that he's willing to try the forms of roleplaying you're interested in. It's also good that the rest of the group is willing to accept his help in becoming more well-rounded players, too. 

I think it’s a spectrum, much like politics, there IS a Left and a Right (Roleplayer and Rollplayer), and not everyone is at the far end of the spectrum, most are somewhere in the middle; my table just happens to have two people are both the far ends of opposite sides.


I disagree. There are simply roleplayers with interests in the various forms of roleplaying. We can stop with the "roleplayers and rollplayers" thing. It's catchy, but dead wrong.

No amount of tips, tricks, or gimmicks will ever be better than simply talking directly to your fellow players to resolve your issues.
DMs: Don't Prep the Plot | Structure First, Story Last | Prep Tips | Spoilers Don't Spoil Anything | No Myth Roleplaying
Players: 11 Ways to Be a Better Roleplayer | You Are Not Your Character     Hilarious D&D Actual Play Podcast: Crit Juice!

FREE CONTENT: Encounters With Alternate Goals  |  Full-Contact Futbol   |   Pre-Gen D&D 5e PCs  |  Re-Imagining Phandelver  |  Three Pillars of Immersion

Follow me on Twitter: @is3rith

Min/Maxing for combat can also be helped if the DM arranges encounters to also favour different ways to win, with a wider variety of tactics and siuations being faced the Min/maxers will need to broaden out and balance their characters better. Make clever actions, fast thinking, different skills and RP mean more in a fight, and create situations where there is opportunities that may require a broader skill set.
So for all intensive purposes if you've been playing 4E, you've been playing by the standard / actual rules



"intents and purposes", not "intensive purposes" - and, as the OP says and that guy's point 2 make clear, they're playing D20.
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I have a player with the same mindset. The same problems arise. It boggles my mind how he finds what he does entertaining, but he does, so more power to him. He almost always plays a fighter with the same feats, stats, equipment, and same droll personality. If there are 3 interesting characters and him, though... he's quite useful. A stray arrow has a 25% chance of hitting this easily replaceable party member instead of one of the characters. I define character here as "A representation of a fictional personality". Having no personality, it might be best to not call this a PC (Player Character), but instead call it a PX (Player Extra).. to avoid the confusion. There might one day be separate rules to distinguish the two types, such as "whenever an enemy has a deadly effect and must choose between a PC and a PX, he chooses the PX every time."

As much as people complain about the railroading, this player's characters might die of old age standing in the same spot if the occasional train didn't come along and push him down a track. If he could fight off the occasional giant spider using him as an anchor for his webs, he'd be content. But we prefer not to split the party if we can help it. Once per session he says or does something interesting, so the rest of the party throws him in the caboose and drops him off when we reach Combat-town.

Out of game he's an actual person. I actually like the guy. And he has fun with his PX.
All the above joking aside.. what does the poor DM do?

---
Iserith: Give me 20 minutes at the start of the session with any group and we'll turn a collection of stats into a viable party with a history, goals, and drama.

Unfortunately, this type of player will quickly render all that cool stuff null and void as soon as he starts playing the character. I stopped wasting my time on back stories for this player's characters except to ask.. what is this guys name and where is he from? Something about an orphanage. What's being described is only role-playing if 'cardboard' is a role.

---
So.. what does the DM do? Some options; I place no value judgments on these...just a brainstorm.
1) Throw him a bone. He likes combat. Give him combat. I'm sure he's killed somebody's brother or something. A brief 1-on-1 duel situation will give him something to gnaw on while the PC's are choosing spells, buying equipment, updating their character sheets, discussing the party's next plan of action, goals, etc.  and the other necesseties of the game. He should matter, but face it.. probably don't care; just wants to see if he can top his high score.
2) Don't feel the need to give him uber-powerful challenges. It's domination he wants. Throw peons at the party. Do it in sufficient numbers that EVERYBODY gets to kick some arse. He just wants a big number. He has a fascination with numbers. NOVA! Let him use that combat reflexes and great cleave and shoot for most kills with a single attack. It's a video game if he likes it that way. Don't worry that the combat is quick and dirty and easy. The enemy can always send something more challenging in the future.
3) Boost up the role-playing. Have NPC's address him directly when appropriate. He may not step up from cardboard, but at least you gave him the chance to be a star... he just blew it.. Chances are he'll do exactly as you suspect... he'll play the role of cardboard. It's not a very challenging role.
4) Ignore it and see if it goes away.
5) Have an out-of-game discussion about how boring his characters are. As if he doesn't know or cares.
6) Let him meet his match. There's always someone better, so they say. Let him meet that guy. Oh. I know.. you're picking on him. Dude.. he only knows the numbers. That guy can be your basic 1st level fighter with a net. A ninja that has been paid to assassinate him, throws a shuriken with a minor poison and then runs away. His synapses might eventually fire and wonder who is trying to assassinate him. Don't worry if it don't (it won't).... the rest of the party will have a great time trying to figure out the mystery while he's chasing ninjas everywhere. Dangle the carrot a couple of times, even giving him a chance to kill increasingly awesome ninjas. The rest of the players will probably be more interested in finding out who sent the ninjas than he will, ironically. But he will keep killing the only people who give him a chance to succeed... the ninjas themselves. Revel in the chaos of being an evil DM.


If you're a player and this is your travelling companion... calculate his carrying capacity and use him to haul treasure. Trick him into opening doors that you know are trapped but doubt you can remove the traps on. Don't worry. He's probably a hit-point cow. Milk it. Ask how much he weighs and use him for  a counter-weight. Let him be your meat-shield. If his character dies, don't worry. He's replacable. You're not, because you're the main character.

Like I said, just a brainstorm.
A rogue with a bowl of slop can be a controller. WIZARD PC: Can I substitute Celestial Roc Guano for my fireball spells? DM: Awesome. Yes. When in doubt, take action.... that's generally the best course. Even Sun Tsu knew that, and he didn't have internets.
Min/Maxing for combat can also be helped if the DM arranges encounters to also favour different ways to win, with a wider variety of tactics and siuations being faced the Min/maxers will need to broaden out and balance their characters better. Make clever actions, fast thinking, different skills and RP mean more in a fight, and create situations where there is opportunities that may require a broader skill set.

Yep!
A rogue with a bowl of slop can be a controller. WIZARD PC: Can I substitute Celestial Roc Guano for my fireball spells? DM: Awesome. Yes. When in doubt, take action.... that's generally the best course. Even Sun Tsu knew that, and he didn't have internets.
So for all intensive purposes if you've been playing 4E, you've been playing by the standard / actual rules



"intents and purposes", not "intensive purposes" - and, as the OP says and that guy's point 2 make clear, they're playing D20.



yep, oops

I find it confusing sometimes because people post both 4E and other edition stuff in the same forum.  ;)
"Non nobis Domine Sed nomini tuo da gloriam" "I wish for death not because I want to die, but because I seek the war eternal"

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4e is also d20. 



But to be more on target, my only question is how does one achieve an AC of 90 in 3.x?
I remember reading somewhere that the max was about 70, and that required some pretty liberal use of the rules, party support and left you pretty much worthless at everything else.
Again, it's been a few years since i've played 3.5, but iirc, an ac of around 30-40 was pretty typical for most pc's in the mid teens. But really, 90?

I know you said everything adds up, i'm just can't imagine sure how... 
FWIW [4e designer] baseline assumption was that roughly 70% of your feats would be put towards combat effectiveness, parties would coordinate, and strikers would do 20/40/60 at-will damage+novas. If your party isn't doing that... well, you are below baseline, so yes, you need to optimize slightly to meet baseline. -Alcestis
4e is also d20.



No, 4E uses 20-sided dice.  As do AD&D2, AD&D, D&D, and several other non-D&D games.  However, none of those systems use the mechanics named "D20 System".

But to be more on target, my only question is how does one achieve an AC of 90 in 3.x?



Use one of the many infinitely-stacking stat boost combos, and then stop at 90 because you don't feel like going higher.
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Confused about Stealth? Think "invisibility" means "take the mini off the board to make people guess?" You need to check out The Rules Of Hidden Club.
Damage types and resistances: A working house rule.
I'd probably do the following in 3.5 - both of these options happened in 4e for precisely the reasons you're having problems:
Limit number of prestige classes and multiclassing. A lot of what breaks in 3.5 is allowing unlimited dipping. If you limit it to 3, it stops the overclocked synergy problems. Once someone finishes out an entire prestige class, it no longer counts towards the limit.

Buff spells. I'd institute the 4e rule - basically, 'powers' last 5 minutes or until the end of the encounter(whichever comes first) unless they specifically last a day(and not a day because they last 24+ hours)

-------------

To a large extent, this affects nothing in the base game. There's still plenty of room to optimize, so the min/maxxer can be happy trying to do stronger mechanical choices. The change is reasonably straightforward - don't expect a buff spell to last past the combat it was cast in, don't take more than a total of 3 classes and prestige classes.
4e is also d20.



No, 4E uses 20-sided dice.  As do AD&D2, AD&D, D&D, and several other non-D&D games.  However, none of those systems use the mechanics named "D20 System".




"The d20 System" is essentially a marketing and copyright tool created by wotc to 'brand' their ogl and allow for 3rd party publisherings.


At it's actual core, the d20 system mechanic means you roll a d20, add modifers and compare it to a ac/dc/save/whatever. Also, rolling higher is always better than rolling lower. And this system is very much used in 4e.
And yes, it differs from the mechanics of previous editions (thac0, sometimes rolling low is good...). But i digress... 



 Use one of the many infinitely-stacking stat boost combos, and then stop at 90 because you don't feel like going higher



Yes, that is possible, but from the OP's description, it didn't sound (to me) like that player was expoliting infinite combos. 
FWIW [4e designer] baseline assumption was that roughly 70% of your feats would be put towards combat effectiveness, parties would coordinate, and strikers would do 20/40/60 at-will damage+novas. If your party isn't doing that... well, you are below baseline, so yes, you need to optimize slightly to meet baseline. -Alcestis
There is a lot of talk about poor roleplaying and rollplaying vs. roleplaying. This is not the issue here. Fortunately all the players in my group are reasonably good roleplayers.

We are indeed considering moving to a different game system. What we like about 3.5 is that because it has had a long successful run, there is so much material and there are so many options. This is also a leading cause of the optimization problem, as with so many options there are very powerful combinations to be made that the designers didn't envision.
Our main optimizer thinks it's not a solution though. He says that he probably needs a few weeks to get familiar with the new game system and then can probably break that as well. We have played 1st, 2nd, 4th, DnD Next, Gamma world and Mutants and Masterminds. Only Gamma World seems to be largely unbreakable as that mainly randomizes everything, giving the players little choice.

I have read all posts and will adress a few in particular but I value all contributions. Thank you.

There are two house rules I use to try to limit min/maxing from the start (and my players always seem to buy into them):

1. I encourage players to create their characters with one sub-10 ability score.  I find that this encourages role-playing.  I do not require it, but I do highly recommend it from my players.  My reason behind it is that heroes of myth, legend, and history, and even fiction invariably have a flaw of some sort.  As player characters are at least somewhat intended to emulate those heroes of time, (to me) it makes sense that they should have a flaw as well.

A well optimized character will have a dump stat, if not several. This doesn't help at all in preventing min/maxing.

2. I impose maximum ability score limits, at character generation: either two 18s or one 19 AFTER racial modifiers.  I have adjusted these limits over the years and have found that these are the sweet spot where low level characters can excel in what they are best at, but still be challenged by level appropriate CRs.  And as they level up, magic items that increase ability scores do not send them into the stratosphere.

This guy's basic stats are 10/10/14/14/16 and he's a human. The problem is that he can boost his CHA to over 40 from that starting 16, which is very much the stratophere, only one statted entity in all the books I have has a higher CHA, and that's Sune, FR's godess of beauty.

A third house rule I have is a limit on what magic items are readily available for purchase.  My limit is 8000 gold (source book value).  If a player wants an item that costs more than that, then they can still get it, but maybe they have to go to a specific city in a specific kingdom to a specific merchant who may or may not have it, but they know where to get it (AKA plot hook ).  Again, my players are usually OK with this limitation.

8000 sounds like a really low limit in a high level campaign, where you have 300.000 or more. It also sounds like something that would nerf classes like fighters much more than spell casters. In general I don't see how this helps. The previous character that broke our high level game was fighter/barbarian based and needed lot's of good items to do it, the current character is mainly spell and buff based. His moniker is the "Loincloth warrior" as he hardly has any gear he wears.

Getting to the OP's quandary...These house rules will not help in your current campaign, but maybe when you start anew you could try them and see if they help.  But they do somewhat depend on what level of point buy your group uses.  Or do you roll dice?

We've used 25 and 32 point buy in the past. But the initial scores matter little to a good optimizer, they're much more help to the less optimized characters in the party. We are considering starting again at level 1, but we want to prevent the game blowing up again when we reach level 12-14.

But to be more on target, my only question is how does one achieve an AC of 90 in 3.x?
I remember reading somewhere that the max was about 70, and that required some pretty liberal use of the rules, party support and left you pretty much worthless at everything else.
Again, it's been a few years since i've played 3.5, but iirc, an ac of around 30-40 was pretty typical for most pc's in the mid teens. But really, 90?

I know you said everything adds up, i'm just can't imagine sure how... 


Behold the awesomeness of a real optimizer. He's good and a sight to behold when he applies his trade. This is what I know:

He gets his CHA bonus (+17) to AC several times: From Ascetic Mage feat, from Glory of the Divine from the Mystic Wanderer PrC, from Siren's Grace spell in Spell Compendium, Greater Mage Armor, up to 7 from Dex, 24-30 from Natural Armor (through polymorph, either Thrym Hound (MM5) or Octopus Tree (FF)), +5 from Barkskin, +4 from Halo of Sand. = 10+17+17+17+6+1+30+5+4= 107, assuming 12 Dex in Thrym Hound form, if I didn't make any mistakes.
I think he's got some Dex buffs though, but usually uses the Octopus Tree and doesn't always have everything active as sometimes we can't buff before combat, but usually it's at least 90+.
Stoneskin, Heart of Earth and other spells mitigate some of the damage that does come through.

I like the guy and he's got an awesome grasp of DnD 3.5 material, knows most of it by heart. I enjoy seeing what he comes up with as it boggles my mind how he finds these combinations. The only problem we're having is that applying this level of optimization skill utterly breaks the game.

I'd probably do the following in 3.5 - both of these options happened in 4e for precisely the reasons you're having problems:
Limit number of prestige classes and multiclassing. A lot of what breaks in 3.5 is allowing unlimited dipping. If you limit it to 3, it stops the overclocked synergy problems. Once someone finishes out an entire prestige class, it no longer counts towards the limit.


We discussed this. Either limiting the number of classes, or requiring you to finish any PrC you pick. The reasoning against it, to which I also see some merit, is that a lot of PrCs are just not worth it with this requirement and you basically write off a large part of the published material. There is a lot of poorly designed material in the published work, that's just not worth it with such a rule. In the mean time it doesn't prevent some of the bigger power options. Even just straight Druid with the right feats, items and spell selection is going to break the game. No multiclassing of any form needed.

Buff spells. I'd institute the 4e rule - basically, 'powers' last 5 minutes or until the end of the encounter(whichever comes first) unless they specifically last a day(and not a day because they last 24+ hours)


Interesting idea. how do you handle out of combat use of powers? For example polymorphing into a goblin to spy on the goblin tribe you just discovered. Limiting that to 5 minutes as well? The same could be said for lot's of divination and other out of combat abilities.
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To a large extent, this affects nothing in the base game. There's still plenty of room to optimize, so the min/maxxer can be happy trying to do stronger mechanical choices. The change is reasonably straightforward - don't expect a buff spell to last past the combat it was cast in, don't take more than a total of 3 classes and prestige classes.

I will discuss your last idea with the group, but the first two seem rather ineffective for the problem we're facing.

5e should strongly stay away from "I don't like it, so you can't have it either."

 

I once asked the question (in D&D 3.5) "Does a Druid4/Wizard3/ArcaneHierophant1 have Wildshape?". Jesse Decker and Andy Collins: Yes and the text is clear and can't be interpreted differently. Rich Redman and Ed Stark: No and the text is clear and can't be interpreted differently. Skip Williams: Lol, it's worded ambiguously and entirely not how I intended it. (Cust. Serv. Reference# 050815-000323)