How do you tell someone their character sucks?

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How do you suggest improvements without them getting all defensive? Any tips? I mean some people feel threatened and insulted when you try to make suggestions. They don't want to hear them but they become a liability to the party when they're rolling at -4 below par and doing as much damage as someone 5 levels lower than them. I mean look at this for example:


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====== Created Using Wizards of the Coast D&D Character Builder ======
Shatter, level 4
Shardmind, Artificer
Shardmind Option: Perception Bonus
 
FINAL ABILITY SCORES
STR 8, CON 13, DEX 10, INT 20, WIS 18, CHA 10
 
STARTING ABILITY SCORES
STR 8, CON 13, DEX 10, INT 17, WIS 15, CHA 10
 
 
AC: 18 Fort: 14 Ref: 17 Will: 17
HP: 40 Surges: 7 Surge Value: 10
 
TRAINED SKILLS
Arcana +14, Dungeoneering +11, Heal +11, History +12, Perception +13
 
UNTRAINED SKILLS
Acrobatics +2, Athletics +1, Bluff +2, Diplomacy +2, Endurance +5, Insight +6, Intimidate +2, Nature +6, Religion +7, Stealth +2, Streetwise +2, Thievery +2
 
POWERS
Basic Attack: Melee Basic Attack
Basic Attack: Ranged Basic Attack
Shardmind Racial Power: Shard Swarm
Artificer Feature: Healing Infusion: Curative Admixture
Artificer Feature: Healing Infusion: Resistive Formula
Artificer Attack 1: Ethereal Chill
Artificer Attack 1: Magic Weapon
Artificer Attack 1: Spike Wire
Artificer Attack 1: Obedient Servant
Artificer Utility 2: Restorative Infusion
Artificer Attack 3: Lightning Sphere
 
FEATS
Level 1: Ritual Caster
Level 1: Defensive Minions
Level 2: Master Mixer
Level 4: Weapon Expertise (Staff)
 
ITEMS
Ritual Book
Brew Potion
Disenchant Magic Item
Enchant Magic Item
Make Whole
Robe of Contingency Cloth Armor (Basic Clothing) +1 x1
Staff of Artifice +1 x1
Talon Amulet +1
Amanuensis
Acidic Fire
Dragonfire Tar
Woundpatch
Alchemical Reagents (Arcana)
====== End ======
How do you suggest improvements without them getting all defensive? Any tips? I mean some people feel threatened and insulted when you try to make suggestions. They don't want to hear them but they become a liability to the party when they're rolling at -4 below par and doing as much damage as someone 5 levels lower than them. I mean look at this for example:


Show

====== Created Using Wizards of the Coast D&D Character Builder ======
Shatter, level 4
Shardmind, Artificer
Shardmind Option: Perception Bonus
 
FINAL ABILITY SCORES
STR 8, CON 13, DEX 10, INT 20, WIS 18, CHA 10
 
STARTING ABILITY SCORES
STR 8, CON 13, DEX 10, INT 17, WIS 15, CHA 10
 
 
AC: 18 Fort: 14 Ref: 17 Will: 17
HP: 40 Surges: 7 Surge Value: 10
 
TRAINED SKILLS
Arcana +14, Dungeoneering +11, Heal +11, History +12, Perception +13
 
UNTRAINED SKILLS
Acrobatics +2, Athletics +1, Bluff +2, Diplomacy +2, Endurance +5, Insight +6, Intimidate +2, Nature +6, Religion +7, Stealth +2, Streetwise +2, Thievery +2
 
POWERS
Basic Attack: Melee Basic Attack
Basic Attack: Ranged Basic Attack
Shardmind Racial Power: Shard Swarm
Artificer Feature: Healing Infusion: Curative Admixture
Artificer Feature: Healing Infusion: Resistive Formula
Artificer Attack 1: Ethereal Chill
Artificer Attack 1: Magic Weapon
Artificer Attack 1: Spike Wire
Artificer Attack 1: Obedient Servant
Artificer Utility 2: Restorative Infusion
Artificer Attack 3: Lightning Sphere
 
FEATS
Level 1: Ritual Caster
Level 1: Defensive Minions
Level 2: Master Mixer
Level 4: Weapon Expertise (Staff)
 
ITEMS
Ritual Book
Brew Potion
Disenchant Magic Item
Enchant Magic Item
Make Whole
Robe of Contingency Cloth Armor (Basic Clothing) +1 x1
Staff of Artifice +1 x1
Talon Amulet +1
Amanuensis
Acidic Fire
Dragonfire Tar
Woundpatch
Alchemical Reagents (Arcana)
====== End ======



If it's something important, ask the DM.
The same way you tell your girlfriend she has been gaining some weight
If it's a person that gets offended by vast, but non-personal, criticism of the kind that'd be appropriate in the case of the build you posted, it'll be really hard to achieve it the good way.
First of all, everyone at a table with at least one optimizer should be aware of the refluffing principle that is mandatory if you want to play 4e without sucking. 
If anyone disagrees with that principle you have a problem and can't optimize, neither your, nor their chars, in the way you'd like to.
I've never seen anyone, not even the biggest storytellers/roleplayers, that don't give a **** about optimizing, not caring when their character gets totally overshadowed.
If it is a group of friends and some of them are thin-skinned, i'd be careful as hell with "let me make your char for you, so i can optimize mine with good conscience". I made this mistake once and it went ugly. But it really depends on their personalities. If the people in your case are mature and self-confident in the slightest i see no problem in telling them.

Maxed out int, expertise, enh? Magic weapon.

I'm not seeing how this is horribly under par? 
Back to Basics - A Guide to Basic Attacks You might be playing DnD wrong if... "Only two things are infinite, the universe and human stupidity, and I'm not sure about the former." Albert Einstein
What Fardiz said. The guy could be using a better weapon and get some leather armor, but I have played with far worse than this. If the problem is that he's trying to be an alchemist, have the DM drop him Alchemist gloves and whatnot.

This guy doesn't look bad enough to be a party-wrecker. If everyone else at your table is optimized, then he should notice on his own. If it's the way he's playing, that's a little trickier. You could have a session where everyone plays someone else's character, and maybe he could see what his character really can do if he plays tactically.
Or make it comraderie style suggestions, like :" if you use magic weapon now, I'll kick this monsters nuts into  next week!"
You could have a session where everyone plays someone else's character, and maybe he could see what his character really can do if he plays tactically.



One of the best advices i could have imagined. This way everyone would still have fun while learning how to improve. 
Takes some more sessions if the percentage of optimizers at the table is lower than 50%, tho, which could make people suspicious.
No need to suger coat it but don't be surprised if your own character doesn't survive the witchhunt.
I make suggestions all the time, I know the rules and the system a lot better than anybody else in the group, and most of the time I'm the DM, so they just know I want to help them do better and have more fun. As long as I don't make it sound like they have to do what I suggest they are fairly receptive.
If you play with a regular group and everyone loves to optimize, by all means create the radiant mafia of your dreams and slaughter gods in half an alpha strike.  If you're the only one... well, it doesn't always go so well and watching a terrible party poke away at a normal encounter for two hours is extremely frustrating.  There isn't a good way to tell people how to make their characters better without them having any desire to be better.  I currently have a wizard|warlord in the group I play with.  He loves his character, but the most he tends to accomplish is popping two minions per evening.  He has no desire at all to change, knows he's a tax on the party, and is perfectly fine because he is happy with the character as is.  His character has managed not to die mostly through luck of the dice.  It's frustrating to me as a player, but not enough to stop playing.  How frustrating is your group, and is it everyone or just one character?

Generally, especially if you are the only one optimizing, it's best to optimize something other than a striker.  It's easy to make other players feel bad if you are pumping out four times as much damage as them every turn.  People like to see big numbers and it's easy to fall in love with crushing your opponents, but at the end of the game the point is to have fun with the people you're playing with.  

Playing a supreme leader lets the rest of the party be that much better and makes the group feel good.  Playing a heavy controller keeps team monster off of your squishy and underpowered partners, keeping them alive.  Being a hardcore defender does the same and still lets you put out respectable numbers on damage most of the time.  Another alternative is to take a character and specifically don't try to bleed every ounce of greatness you can from it, but pick up a feat/power or two that could be fun in various situations.
Lets see, an artificer with main stat int, int is pretty high and the other two high stats are for the other defences... He has weapon expertise, would make that staff mastery obviously, but it's just an oversight I am sure. Ritual Caster and Master mixer aren't really combat oriented, but could still be fun for someone who is new in D&D.

Defensive minions might also not be the top choice, but he did chose a summoning power so that feat will get better once he gets more summoning powers. Staff of Artifice seems pretty good to me seeing he obviously wants to summon things.

The only real bad thing about the build I would say is that he for some reason is wearing cloth instead of leather and if he is new to D&D that might just be an oversight.

As for how to bring up bad choices ask yourself first are they really that bad? Everyone has different ideas about what a good character is and although this is the optimization boards optimization is not always the most important thing in the game. I've played a blaster wizard and a pacifist healer and had a lot of fun with them eventhough both builds are scorned here.

So when you bring it up ask the person if you could look his char over. Smile and nod as you read then ask him the important question. "Hmm cool. So what kind of character did you try to make?". Try to find out what he wants. Then help him improve on his idea. he wants to be a summoner give him ideas how to be a good summoner. Don't tell him summoners suck and grind his idea into the ground, but be the one who helps his idea become as good as it can get.

If the build is anything like the one you posted the only mistakes I would really call a mistake and not a choice would be the cloth armor and not taking leather armor, but again ask him why he chose it first, and the staff weapon expertise that should obviously be staff mastery.

Especially when someone is new to D&D they know they don't know everything. Someone who is listening to them and giving them suggestions on how to make their idea better is then often well recieved. Someone who is just telling them how bad their choices are however will just get the evil eye.
So what kind of character did you try to make?". Try to find out what he wants. Then help him improve on his idea. he wants to be a summoner give him ideas how to be a good summoner. Don't tell him summoners suck and grind his idea into the ground, but be the one who helps his idea become as good as it can get.



This is probably the best bit, you aren't trying to remake his character to meet your goals, you're trying to help him improve his character to meet his goals, though I would phrase the initial question more along the lines of "What is it you want to accomplish with this character?" since 'try to make' implies they failed in their attempt.

The important thing is to not marginalize what they want, but to try and make it as functional within their framework. My friend plays a warlord but he isn't really much of an enabler, I could tell him he would be better off as an enabler, or I could help him pick powers and feats that satisfy his definition of how warlord should play while improving its functionality and he is definitely going to be more receptive to the second option.
I can see a number of glaring errors here, and perhaps he doesn't understand a few of these mechanics.

For starters, this player appears to be mixing both weapon and impliment powers. Make sure the player is aware that the two play off different aspects, and feats that enhance a weapon (weapon expertise(Staff)) do not help with Impliment powers. He wants Versitile Expertise in that feat slot, which helps all of his attacks, not just a few. That one should be fairly simple for him to accept.

Second is he seems to be mixing Alchemist with Ritual caster. Try to figure out if he wants to really do both, or if he just wants to be achemist, cause he can get the Master Mixer feat for free if he only wants to go alchemist. If he really wants to do both, just let him.

I also think he has taken Defensive minions too soon, but it isn't a complete waste of a feat. Still, see my first issue.

Besides that, is this character really a party breaker or suboptimal? I would say no. There is room for improvements, but I see nothing wrong with the character as a whole.
RPGtable username : RTiger
If you play with a regular group and everyone loves to optimize, by all means create the radiant mafia of your dreams and slaughter gods in half an alpha strike.  If you're the only one... well, it doesn't always go so well and watching a terrible party poke away at a normal encounter for two hours is extremely frustrating.

I kind of feel obligated here to point out that one of the things that makes D&D unique is that you're fighting against a real person. If a whole party is "terrible," the DM can simply lower the encounter difficulty to match the skill of the party. Low op doesn't have to mean horrible gameplay.

If you're the only optimizer at the table, you can pretty easily hamstring yourself through several methods. Play a cavalier. Play a halfling barbarian. Wield a scythe. Or play a character opped to the gills but hold back about 75% of your tricks unless the party's in real trouble. I'm in this situation for most of my games, but I'm still able to satisfy my optimization cravings.

It's much trickier when you have only one or two party members slowing everything down, but there can still be little side things or skill challenges you can toss in to occupy them while everyone else is actually progressing through the combat.

Not that those people shouldn't be addressed and offered assistance with character building. I'm not advocating everyone bend over backwards for one selfish player. But it might even be enjoyable for the DM to think up some alternative way for Jimmy Low-Op to contribute to combat.


For starters, this player appears to be mixing both weapon and impliment powers. Make sure the player is aware that the two play off different aspects, and feats that enhance a weapon (weapon expertise(Staff)) do not help with Impliment powers. He wants Versitile Expertise in that feat slot, which helps all of his attacks, not just a few. That one should be fairly simple for him to accept.




Or he can take Staff Expertise from Heroes of the FK / FL, get the attack bonus to both weapons and implement powers, +1 reach for weapon attacks, and not provoke when making ranged or area attacks.

An Artificer should use Crossbow Caster and Eldritch Fusillade Expertise, anyway. These kinds of presents shouldn't be rejected. In a melee heavy group make sure you're the first to go.
I kind of feel obligated here to point out that one of the things that makes D&D unique is that you're fighting against a real person. If a whole party is "terrible," the DM can simply lower the encounter difficulty to match the skill of the party. Low op doesn't have to mean horrible gameplay.



Thank you for pointing that out!  I didn't mention it since my post was wordy enough, but if the whole party hits like a wiffle ball bat then the DM should definitely be doing his part to modify encounters to party level.  That's not particularly part of the spirit of optimization, but it's a valid option.  Heck, if you do make a solid leader/controller/defender for a group of wiffle bats, then the only thing the DM has to modify is the health points of team monster.
An Artificer should use Crossbow Caster and Eldritch Fusillade Expertise, anyway.


Debatable.
"Invokers are probably better round after round but Wizard dailies are devastating. Actually, devastating is too light a word. Wizard daily powers are soul crushing, encounter ending, havoc causing pieces of awesome." -AirPower25 Sear the Flesh, Purify the Soul; Harden the Heart, and Improve the Mind; Born of Blood, but Forged by Fire; The MECH warrior reaches perfection.
I don't see any theme or background (might be me not looking well enough). If you are not using themes I guess that introducing those might be a good option. The Alchemist theme might be just what is needed to free up Master mixer for something more fun if the player wants to have both Ritual Caster and be able to make alchemical items. Also, pointing out that Staff Expertise is better than Weapon Expertise (staff) should hopefully not be a problem.

Trend Carefully.  Players are very connected to their characters (especially in 4e it seems) anytime a character dies or “force modified” you run risk of losing a player.  I have had bad and good experiences and really all I can say is it comes down to the player; but doing the math is usually dons’t end well; players but time and effort into character creation, it’s hard to tell them that time and effort just “isn’t good enough” for you.


Had a new player bring a Warlord; wasn’t the best built one but it was far from broke (much like the artificer being discussed in this thread). Of course the older and super optimized player took no time to start his endless “suggestions” which if denied where followed up by “guilt tripping” the new player into changing his build, and by the end he was basically playing a copy/paste build from the Warlord op thread.


We lost that player; he told me in private he didn’t want to play, “Because he felt bad his character had sucked” and that “He felt the others didn’t like him because of it”, which translated to me as “I’m no longer having fun”. Which was tragic because he was so excited the first few games and I could tell really did enjoy playing.


As the DM, I was double hurt; hurt I had lost a player, and hurt that under my eye DnD basically lost a player forever (and I was too blind to see it happening in front of me). I had a very, very stern “Talk” with the older player and informed him that driving away new-players by bullying them into playing what he wanted was unacceptable and if it happened again he would find himself without a table to play on.


The lesson I learned; it’s better to just let someone play what they want, and let the dice do the teaching; if their character is un-survivable then the dice will catch up with them eventually.  As other have stated the DM should be doing their best to negate this.


If you’re a player and don’t other players build, offer them a friendly suggestion “hey if you took this you could do this___” and if they are on board then great (and I have know a fair amount that are) if they are not, then drop it and don’t pester them.


 If you absolutely have to play in a party that is fully optimized it’s better to find a new table all together, then ruin the fun of the people at your current table because they’re not OP enough for you (and honestly if your this kind of player, you need to do some growing up)

IMAGE(http://www.nodiatis.com/pub/1.jpg)

If you’re a player and don’t other players build, offer them a friendly suggestion “hey if you took this you could do this___” and if they are on board then great (and I have know a fair amount that are) if they are not, then drop it and don’t pester them.


Sadly, this kind of suggestion will usually be taken as forcing, as well, cause it violates the other player's free will. Many people and really nearly every one of the roleplayers, i've met, are pretty thin-skinned, when it comes to slight and honest criticism.

If you absolutely have to play in a party that is fully optimized it’s better to find a new table all together, then ruin the fun of the people at your current table because they’re not OP enough for you (and honestly if your this kind of player, you need to do some growing up)



That's not the point. The point is that you HAVE TO play weak builds at such a table. Cause the other players wont let you play a character that's much better than theirs, without pulling a face.
Me, i personally don't give a damn, if my party is optimized or not. It just hurts, that i have to play something crippled (read: no fun to me), if i don't want to disturb the peace. 
It's too often that non-optimizers are just lazy hypocrites that don't want to do the reading effort of learning the system while being insistent that no PC in the party is clearly stronger than theirs.
I recently asked one group what the appropriate cheese level was?  I was expecting that I'd need to cut down on the power level of my PC (a tweaked out monk), but instead the bottom two players said they'd rather they upped their power level and I stayed where I was...

As an approach, it's not horrible.  The important part is to be ready to adjust your PC if that's the outlier.  Maybe you won't have to, but be ready to. 

"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


The point is that you HAVE TO play weak builds at such a table. Cause the other players wont let you play a character that's much better than theirs, without pulling a face.
Me, i personally don't give a damn, if my party is optimized or not. It just hurts, that i have to play something crippled (read: no fun to me), if i don't want to disturb the peace. 
It's too often that non-optimizers are just lazy hypocrites that don't want to do the reading effort of learning the system while being insistent that no PC in the party is clearly stronger than theirs.



I will have to disagree; you already stated you don't have as much fun and that is hurts to play something crippled; the point of the game is to have fun if you really don't enjoy playing at a table because it’s very low-op then, why play there? Why not find a table of super hardcore players? You would enjoy it more, & you wouldn’t be bringing negative feelings to the table before you. Nothing states you must play w/one group of people, so imo you should find the group you’re going to have the most fun w/and play w/them.

Also, even though I try to do a decent amount of optimization; I think it’s unfair to claim people who don't are "lazy" or "hypocrites". I spend a good bit of time reading the forums and planning my games, because for me DnD is my major hobby at the moment, I put lots of time and effort into it because I love the game and enjoy sitting and playing it w/others.

Given that, how could I expect someone who is a layman to the game or someone who only plays on occasion to know or be as “Good” as I am at the game? That’s like of me getting to play invited to go play golf (which I’ve done under five times in my life) and be expected to know all the rules, the best clubs to use per shot, and the best stance to use when swinging my club. I’m not a hard core golf guy so I wouldn’t know that stuff (and wouldn’t want to waste time learning it for just one game)


It’s the same w/DnD players; some of us are dedicated, but others are just playing the game to pass time or have a fun social event w/their friends; we shouldn’t bash them because they have a “life” outside of DnD.

IMAGE(http://www.nodiatis.com/pub/1.jpg)

If you’re a player and don’t other players build, offer them a friendly suggestion “hey if you took this you could do this___” and if they are on board then great (and I have know a fair amount that are) if they are not, then drop it and don’t pester them.


Sadly, this kind of suggestion will usually be taken as forcing, as well, cause it violates the other player's free will. Many people and really nearly every one of the roleplayers, i've met, are pretty thin-skinned, when it comes to slight and honest criticism.

Eh, depends on the player. 4e has so many choices not that some people just honestly don't know what all is out there. I've had plenty of players thank me for pointing out options they never knew existed. Everyone in this forum enjoys character building pretty much by default, but some players see it as kind of boring and tedious to go through all the powers and feats out there.

If they're defensive or thin-skinned, you can pose it more as a, "Hey I played with a warlord once and he took X, which combined with Y was awesome!" instead of, "You should take X and Y instead of what you took."

It can also help to point out several good options instead of just what you consider the best one, so the player still feels like they're making a meaningful choice rather than just letting you build their character for them. It might mean they pass up a gold option for a sky blue, but it's still likely to be a vast improvement on what they had before.
@Scatter: Ye, you're right of course. But even the benevolent behavior you stated can backfire on you. Really depends on the maturity of your counterpart.



The point is that you HAVE TO play weak builds at such a table. Cause the other players wont let you play a character that's much better than theirs, without pulling a face.
Me, i personally don't give a damn, if my party is optimized or not. It just hurts, that i have to play something crippled (read: no fun to me), if i don't want to disturb the peace. 
It's too often that non-optimizers are just lazy hypocrites that don't want to do the reading effort of learning the system while being insistent that no PC in the party is clearly stronger than theirs.



I will have to disagree; you already stated you don't have as much fun and that is hurts to play something crippled; the point of the game is to have fun if you really don't enjoy playing at a table because it’s very low-op then, why play there? Why not find a table of super hardcore players? You would enjoy it more, & you wouldn’t be bringing negative feelings to the table before you. Nothing states you must play w/one group of people, so imo you should find the group you’re going to have the most fun w/and play w/them.

Also, even though I try to do a decent amount of optimization; I think it’s unfair to claim people who don't are "lazy" or "hypocrites". I spend a good bit of time reading the forums and planning my games, because for me DnD is my major hobby at the moment, I put lots of time and effort into it because I love the game and enjoy sitting and playing it w/others.

Given that, how could I expect someone who is a layman to the game or someone who only plays on occasion to know or be as “Good” as I am at the game? That’s like of me getting to play invited to go play golf (which I’ve done under five times in my life) and be expected to know all the rules, the best clubs to use per shot, and the best stance to use when swinging my club. I’m not a hard core golf guy so I wouldn’t know that stuff (and wouldn’t want to waste time learning it for just one game)


It’s the same w/DnD players; some of us are dedicated, but others are just playing the game to pass time or have a fun social event w/their friends; we shouldn’t bash them because they have a “life” outside of DnD.




And again, if low-op players are OK with a char being stronger than theirs, or even want to improve  their chars on their own initiative, like in kilpatds's example (thumbs up for those people, btw.), i see absolutely no problem. 
As the DM, I was double hurt; hurt I had lost a player, and hurt that under my eye DnD basically lost a player forever (and I was too blind to see it happening in front of me). I had a very, very stern “Talk” with the older player and informed him that driving away new-players by bullying them into playing what he wanted was unacceptable and if it happened again he would find himself without a table to play on.


So because it hurt your feelings that you invited someone with thin skin who couldn't handle criticism, you bullied your player and guilt tripped him into not having fun. Congratulations on being one of the bad DMs.
"Invokers are probably better round after round but Wizard dailies are devastating. Actually, devastating is too light a word. Wizard daily powers are soul crushing, encounter ending, havoc causing pieces of awesome." -AirPower25 Sear the Flesh, Purify the Soul; Harden the Heart, and Improve the Mind; Born of Blood, but Forged by Fire; The MECH warrior reaches perfection.
As the DM, I was double hurt; hurt I had lost a player, and hurt that under my eye DnD basically lost a player forever (and I was too blind to see it happening in front of me). I had a very, very stern “Talk” with the older player and informed him that driving away new-players by bullying them into playing what he wanted was unacceptable and if it happened again he would find himself without a table to play on.


So because it hurt your feelings that you invited someone with thin skin who couldn't handle criticism, you bullied your player and guilt tripped him into not having fun. Congratulations on being one of the bad DMs.



Um, did you read what I wrote down?
Yes; I invited a player who was new to the game. (Sorry if offering a shy person the chance to play a game is wrong, bad on me I guess)
Yes: I did get upset because I saw the more advanced player bully the younger player into making him leave.
Yes: I did "bully" the advanced player by telling him I didn't approve and that kind of "bullying" wasn't allowed at my table.

So I'f Im a bad DM for jumping on one of my players for being mean/snootish/arrogent to the new guy to the point he leaves never to return again; then hell guess I'm just a bad DM. IDK how you play, but people at my table are treated equaly, and when one person starts putting another person down, its time for them to change their attitude or leave. I'd much rather butthurt one bully then let them put down the players at my table.
Sorry if thats not PC enough for you. 

IMAGE(http://www.nodiatis.com/pub/1.jpg)

So because it hurt your feelings that you invited someone with thin skin who couldn't handle criticism, you bullied your player and guilt tripped him into not having fun. Congratulations on being one of the bad DMs.



it looks like he "guilt tripped him" into being less controlling of new players, I doubt ordering newbies around is that player's definition of "having fun" and if it is, he needed to get talked to and tone it down, the DM is not there to enable sociopathic behavior

the impression I got is that clive failed his new player and then tried to take steps to ensure it doesn't happen again

maybe the player who left had thin skin but if things got to the point where he felt he had to leave the game, then things went too far regardless
No, you're absolutely wrong, some things just aren't meant to be.

The DM is not the arbitrator of social contract, if you rule over your gaming group and make threats because one person is being antagonistic toward your friend that you invited, then you are the one with issues. It is not "Your group" it is "your Group. I could probably write a thesis on 'Social Leadership in Cooperative Gaming' but I'm fairly certain someone I know already has.

If someone isn't having fun because they aren't very good, and don't want to change, and when pressured to do so continue to not have fun because they believe people don't like them and are no longer playing "their" character; that person is a bad player. It is also not the DM's job to enable bad players that are actively detrimental to the group, I don't remember which thread it was in, but Alcestis made some excellent points about how to deal with underperforming characters; while the veteran player possibly did cross the line when dealing with the new player, you absolutely crossed the line when dealing with them both.

D&D is generally an activity that people do to have fun, and just like every other form of gaming, you don't want to do it with people that you don't like and don't particularly fit into the group for that activity. While not as obvious as inviting someone weighing 450 lbs to go hike the AT with you and your Marathon buddies, inviting some people to play D&D with you is just going to be a bad idea. Gamers are often socially inept, don't put someone with self-esteem issues at a table with an A-type personality. You already acknowledge that people should play with other people of the same optimization level in order to have the most fun, so you screwed this one up for yourself.
"Invokers are probably better round after round but Wizard dailies are devastating. Actually, devastating is too light a word. Wizard daily powers are soul crushing, encounter ending, havoc causing pieces of awesome." -AirPower25 Sear the Flesh, Purify the Soul; Harden the Heart, and Improve the Mind; Born of Blood, but Forged by Fire; The MECH warrior reaches perfection.
If one player being less than uber optimized is what is causing your game to be a drag or for your group to fail then there's much more bad going on than this guy's character. Seriously, you should never ever care or want to interfere with someone else's character build in my opinion. As friends, there should be no problem suggesting a few things, but if the person is happy with what they've got then why do you care? Try enjoying the game for something other than slaughtering the enemy in the optimum time frame or grabbing the phat loot. Or play a game that doesn't force you to be the perfect build to have fun.

Now, if you want to make suggestions then it should only ever be "in character." For example, maybe your character role-plays an encounter where you buy some better armor and gift wrap it for the guy. Maybe there's a note attached saying, happy birthday from the group. Role-play a little party for the guy and lavish him with cool stuff that he wouldn't otherwise get for himself. I don't know, but be creative.

I really, really just think the whole optimization thing is lame. If you play the game like it's a math problem that has to be solved to "win" then you are probably having a lot less fun than you could. 
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EAST1-3 Unbidden (H3) EAST2-3 Nightmares (P1) NETH3-1 Secrets and Shadows (Paragon Tier) (Author) ELTU3-6 True Blue (Heroic Tier) (Author) EPIC3-3 The Tangled Skein of Destiny (Co-Author) ABER4-3 A Little Rebellion (Paragon Tier) (Author) WATE4-1 Paying the Piper (Heroic Tier) (Co-Author)
No, you're absolutely wrong, some things just aren't meant to be.

The DM is not the arbitrator of social contract, if you rule over your gaming group and make threats because one person is being antagonistic toward your friend that you invited, then you are the one with issues. It is not "Your group" it is "your Group. I could probably write a thesis on 'Social Leadership in Cooperative Gaming' but I'm fairly certain someone I know already has.

If someone isn't having fun because they aren't very good, and don't want to change, and when pressured to do so continue to not have fun because they believe people don't like them and are no longer playing "their" character; that person is a bad player. It is also not the DM's job to enable bad players that are actively detrimental to the group, I don't remember which thread it was in, but Alcestis made some excellent points about how to deal with underperforming characters; while the veteran player possibly did cross the line when dealing with the new player, you absolutely crossed the line when dealing with them both.

D&D is generally an activity that people do to have fun, and just like every other form of gaming, you don't want to do it with people that you don't like and don't particularly fit into the group for that activity. While not as obvious as inviting someone weighing 450 lbs to go hike the AT with you and your Marathon buddies, inviting some people to play D&D with you is just going to be a bad idea. Gamers are often socially inept, don't put someone with self-esteem issues at a table with an A-type personality. You already acknowledge that people should play with other people of the same optimization level in order to have the most fun, so you screwed this one up for yourself.




Sorry. But that is just well formulated horse manure. And older and more experienced player has absolutely no right to try to enforce his will on a younger less experience player. In particular not about something as silly as level of character optimization. Just like any other player around the table the DM has every right to put his foot down and say "enough is enough" when someone is acting out of line.  

To answer the question in  the title: As a general rule of thumb; dont. If they enjoy their character despite its short commings all the better for them. If they do not they will naturally turn to the nicest, most supportive and most experienced player around the table for assistance. That would be you. Right? 

I really, really just think the whole optimization thing is lame. If you play the game like it's a math problem that has to be solved to "win" then you are probably having a lot less fun than you could. 



Guess what? You're on CharOP here, and people here are deriving a part of their fun out of optimizing. There is no problem or lack of fun involved for somebody who likes to optimize, which you wont get, if you keep judging from your own perspective.
And yes, i also think, that the experienced player in CliveDauthi's example crossed a line. Patronizing someone who's on defense is pointless, and as long as the unexperienced player enjoys his character, everything is OK. There is no need, at least not for me, to play on a table with all high-op PCs. I don't care. What i care about is, if, in consequence of their own discontent due to the PC's internal balance, the low-op players get pissed and try to drag me down to them instead of letting me help them to make a better build. In this case they clearly crossed a line.

To answer the question in  the title: As a general rule of thumb; dont. If they enjoy their character despite its short commings all the better for them. If they do not they will naturally turn to the nicest, most supportive and most experienced player around the table for assistance. That would be you. Right? 



It's nice that you expect everyone at the table to be altruistic or at least positive about progressing and maybe you're even one of the lucky ones, that exclusively play with people that act that way. In my experience there's very well a place for jealousy, even between friends. 
Might sound cynical, but i don't take common sense for granted anymore, when it comes to RPG.




To answer the question in  the title: As a general rule of thumb; dont. If they enjoy their character despite its short commings all the better for them. If they do not they will naturally turn to the nicest, most supportive and most experienced player around the table for assistance. That would be you. Right? 



It's nice that you expect everyone at the table to be altruistic or at least positive about progressing and maybe you're even one of the lucky ones, that exclusively play with people that act that way. In my experience there's very well a place for jealousy, even between friends. 
Might sound cynical, but i don't take common sense for granted anymore, when it comes to RPG.





I am curious now. Where in this context would the jealousy arise? Also; what do you mean by "progressing"? 

If they do not [enjoy their character despite its short commings] they will naturally turn to the nicest, most supportive and most experienced player around the table for assistance.



I was referring to the above. They could also keep it passive aggressive and stick with "i don't want to improve and work on my build and generally i don't want interference at all. I'd rather want that one player to cripple his build for me to still have fun". Therefore they'd turn to the most supportive (for their idea) and influential person at the table, not necessarily the most experienced one.
What would you do in this case?

By "progressing" i meant "accepting help and spending some time to improve, if there's a drawback".

If they do not [enjoy their character despite its short commings] they will naturally turn to the nicest, most supportive and most experienced player around the table for assistance.



I was referring to the above. They could also keep it passive aggressive and stick with "i don't want to improve and work on my build and generally i don't want interference at all. I'd rather want that one player to cripple his build for me to still have fun". Therefore they'd turn to the most supportive (for their idea) and influential person at the table, not necessarily the most experienced one.
What would you do in this case?

By "progressing" i meant "accepting help and spending some time to improve, if there's a drawback".





Yeah, thats a tough one. But I don't think bullying them into changing their character around is going to solve anything. If they do not enjoy playing a low powered character in a high powered group and do not want to improve the character either they will at some point no longer take part in the games.  


Point being, the low-op player has no particular right to enforce his way of playing onto the rest of the table, and likewise the high-op players have no particular right to enforce their charOp standards on the new player. Luckily there is no problem playing hi-op and lo-op at the same table. Just as long as everyone agrees to it. What does it matter to Sam that Aragorn murders 20 enemies while he is still trying to take down his first? As long as the DM is sensitive to this issue and fields 21 enemies, not 40.
      

What does it matter to Sam that Aragorn murders 20 enemies while he is still trying to take down his first? As long as the DM is sensitive to this issue and fields 21 enemies, not 40.



So long as people aren't expecting the Sam of the group to pull any weight and Sam truly doesn't feel unhappy about the total lack of contribution to the group, sure.  That's a rare occasion, but it does happen.
What does it matter to Sam that Aragorn murders 20 enemies while he is still trying to take down his first? As long as the DM is sensitive to this issue and fields 21 enemies, not 40.

Well to run with your example, Sam was fairly miserable through most of his journey, expressing multiple times his desire to just give up and go home. He only continued on because of Frodo.

I understand the situation you're talking about, but I've never seen it. I don't have so much trouble with the high-op people looking down on the low-op, but rather it's the low-op people feeling guilty and incompetent when they kill one guy to another's twenty. Or worse, just lie on the ground dying while Aragon clears the room. There is a fundamental assumption in 4e that a PC is a hero, and it's hard to feel heroic when you're clearly inconsequential most of the time. I agree with you that it can work if everyone is cool with it, but I think it's a very rare group that will truly be cool with it over an extended campaign.
Anecdote!

I DM for a mixed group: one high-op player, one low-op and a couple in-between. The high-op plays a sorcerer who absolutely destroys the battlefield on occasion, leaving the rest to watch. The low-op player didn't mind him doing so, but I could tell she was also a bit miffed by the fact that she never got the same results with her character (an invoker). 

Flash forward a few sessions. She requested last session if she could retrain her paragon path to a better one, and I said sure. Then this session, she used her Keeper of the Nine E11 for the first time on a cluttered battlefield in a group with 5 people who all have a good MBA. Two standards died, one became bloodied, and two were clustered together for a follow-up area burst. The look of pride and accomplishment on her face was absolutely priceless! 

So yeah, getting a good result in the game can feel great, which is accomplished by optimizing a bit. 
Honestly it still baffles me all the problems that are reported; I admit I have had more than my fair share as a DM and a Player; but it baffles me why players stay at tables they are not happy with. Now I have sucked up my pride a time or two when I didn’t like something; but on the very few occasions I realized I just wasn’t going to have as much fun playing game X instead of game Y I just left and joined game Y.

So if you’re really big into Char.Op and want a high tier game, then why stick around and play at a table full of low-op players/characters? You know it’s not the kind of game you enjoy and wouldn’t it be easier to go find a high-op game instead of trying to convert all the people at a low-op game to become high-op?

The reverse is true as well; if you’re a player who mostly likes to role-play and not generally super excited for combat, why would you sit at the table with all super hard core number munches? If you’re not interested in the unique way feat A interacts with class feature B, why not go to a table where people are doing more role-playing and less roll-playing?

Before it starts; I live in a remote area so as far as sit down games go I can’t be picky; but *gasp* there is this thing called the internet we can play DnD over now; so there should always been good options for either kind of player to find a group he fits in with. Literally all you have to do is go forum for online games and post “One heavy OP player looking for hardcore game” or “One role-player to find a story centered game” Also for

DMs; I think this entire conversation screams “You should have had session 0” this is the kind of issues that session 0 is meant to head off; I had one a few nights ago for a game I’m stating soon, one of the topics I was sure to cover was the level of CharOp I saw at the table; I made time to make sure everyone was okay with the level of difficulty I had in mind, and offered to help anyone with their character (IF they wanted it)

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