Character UNoptimization

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So I have a bit of an unsual request. My little sister is going to run her first D&D game and normally I play fairly optomized characters, but for her first game I want to play something intentionally suboptimal, but not bad. I still want to have fun myself but since its her first time DMing I don't want to ruin that experience with an OP PC. She is also DMing the game for two friends of hers that are playing for the first time ever, so I want to make a character that can sort of fade into the background in combat and let them shine.

The obvious choice was for a leader but one of her friends is dead set on playing a bard, my second choice was a defender just to take the hits for them, but her other friend wants to be a swordmage. I think what I might want to do is a striker since a controller can have too much sway in combat and I don't want to lock down monsters with tons of conditions and stuff, since I want my sister to have fun with her first time DMing.

I expect the game will be mostly non-combat stuff, because that's more her style, and I can handle all that just fine. Just for the combat I want to make a sort of middle of the road, or maybe even a bit on the bad side, sort of character that's still fun to play. I'm learning towards warlock right now, though I might do barbarian because they're legendary for their meh-ness if you don't optomize charging. I'm really looking for suggestions though on builds that might be more fun than they are strictly good.
Perhaps we've found a use for the Vampire?
But any striker can be built sub-optimally. Use a post-racial 16 in your main attack stat, a +2 proficiency weapon and possibly forgo an expertise feat. Load up on RP feats and take black powers from the handbooks.
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So I have a bit of an unsual request. My little sister is going to run her first D&D game and normally I play fairly optomized characters, but for her first game I want to play something intentionally suboptimal, but not bad. I still want to have fun myself but since its her first time DMing I don't want to ruin that experience with an OP PC. She is also DMing the game for two friends of hers that are playing for the first time ever, so I want to make a character that can sort of fade into the background in combat and let them shine.

The obvious choice was for a leader but one of her friends is dead set on playing a bard, my second choice was a defender just to take the hits for them, but her other friend wants to be a swordmage. I think what I might want to do is a striker since a controller can have too much sway in combat and I don't want to lock down monsters with tons of conditions and stuff, since I want my sister to have fun with her first time DMing.

I expect the game will be mostly non-combat stuff, because that's more her style, and I can handle all that just fine. Just for the combat I want to make a sort of middle of the road, or maybe even a bit on the bad side, sort of character that's still fun to play. I'm learning towards warlock right now, though I might do barbarian because they're legendary for their meh-ness if you don't optomize charging. I'm really looking for suggestions though on builds that might be more fun than they are strictly good.



What level are you starting at?
But really, it might be better to show them what the game has to offer. Instead of fights dragging on for 2 hours because nobody can hit anything, show them that by making effective choices, they don't have to grind out encounters. Show them the fun of working as a team to overcome obstacles.
We're starting at 11, yeah I know, not exactly an ideal level for a new DM, but all the monsters she wants to use are in the paragon tier. Anyway I don't want to just build a BAD character, that's easy. I want to build an effective, but not amazing character. Something middle of the road, and fun to play (preferably for both me and the DM). If I wanted to make a bad character I'd just play a binder :P
But really, it might be better to show them what the game has to offer. Instead of fights dragging on for 2 hours because nobody can hit anything, show them that by making effective choices, they don't have to grind out encounters. Show them the fun of working as a team to overcome obstacles.


You can edit posts, btw.
I guess you didn't understand his request. He wants to do his sister a favor. She is the DM and will probably be overwhelmed if he shows his fellow players the power of 1337ness.

@OP:

Druid and Melee Cleric, both pure class, are two rather weak choices that your sister would be able to handle, even if highly optimized, and that are very entertaining to play. 
Perhaps we've found a use for the Vampire?


He said "but not bad"

I'd suggest a character with decent mobility, defenses, and forced movement ... oh look, the monk guide is being rewritten! Centered Breath, aiming toward Ghostwalker PP.
"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.
But really, it might be better to show them what the game has to offer. Instead of fights dragging on for 2 hours because nobody can hit anything, show them that by making effective choices, they don't have to grind out encounters. Show them the fun of working as a team to overcome obstacles.


You can edit posts, btw.
I guess you didn't understand his request. He wants to do his sister a favor. She is the DM and will probably be overwhelmed if he shows his fellow players the power of 1337ness.


Right, exactly. Plus I want the two new players to feel good about their character choices, I don't want to make them feel like scrubs, even if they are :P.

edit: Yeah actually I just looked at Mommy_was_an_orc's new monk guide. That might be an option, but I don't think I'd wanna do ghost walker, it's pretty rife for cheese.
Build optimized striker. Pull punches. Just because you have a 1+ KPR Striker doesn't mean you have to use all your resources, but they'll appreciate it when you can bail them out. Combine with semi-poor tactical decision making (if I was a Ranger, for instance, I might split my Twin Strike against two targets most of the time) and you'll be effective, but no one will notice you. Bonus points for every monster you let the Bard or the Swordmage get the kill shot on.
Druid and (simple weapon) Melee Cleric, both pure class, are two versatile and rather weak choices that your sister would be able to handle, even if highly optimized, and that are very entertaining to play. And you would even contribute an MBA in both cases, for your Bard buddy to shine.
Monk is problematic, you can see it in the new guide. With certain reading and highly optimized it'd be definitely too stronk. Same goes for Feylock and Starlock.

@Alcestis: Pulling punches is odd and not a source of fun to everybody.
It isn't that odd. Plenty of CharOp regulars have played in "normal" games with heavily optimized characters and just held back. Usually makes people pretty happy.

I'll toss out another idea though. Int is covered by the Swordmage and Bard is the party face. So that is Cha and Int covered of the knowledge skills. Leaves Wis and Dex. Play an Avenger or a Predator Druid. Not stepping on any of the newbie's toes, but will be helpful.
But really, it might be better to show them what the game has to offer. Instead of fights dragging on for 2 hours because nobody can hit anything, show them that by making effective choices, they don't have to grind out encounters. Show them the fun of working as a team to overcome obstacles.


You can edit posts, btw.
I guess you didn't understand his request. He wants to do his sister a favor. She is the DM and will probably be overwhelmed if he shows his fellow players the power of 1337ness.

@OP:

Druid and Melee Cleric, both pure class, are two rather weak choices that your sister would be able to handle, even if highly optimized, and that are very entertaining to play. 

I did understand his request. I was just suggesting that it might be better to play an effective character in order teach the new players what they can do within the game's structure. Effective doesn't have to mean highly optimized.
Perhaps we've found a use for the Vampire?


He said "but not bad"

I'd suggest a character with decent mobility, defenses, and forced movement ... oh look, the monk guide is being rewritten! Centered Breath, aiming toward Ghostwalker PP.

That was supposed to be a joke.
My last game I played I was an invoker tiefling with some pretty redonk save penalities (like -9 all combat), so I pulled my punches big time. I never used my stuns on solos (that's no fun for anyone), and it ended up being alright. I wasn't as super effective as I could have been, but in the end everyone had fun. Maybe I should focus more on just pulling punches and letting the other players shine than just making a subpar character, still this is a good opportunity to play a fun bad build I wouldn't otherwise.

edit: Oh I may have forgotten to mention we're going to use inherant bonuses to make her job as a DM easier so she doesn't have to comb through magic item lists for loot (she already hates doing that just for making characters). So that will preclude some builds that rely on items, like lightsaber avengers, and cold weapon fighters.
For a new group, I'd build a leader or defender with MC leader and a power swap for an encounter heal to bail someone out if needed. Let the newer players play the strikers. And I'd recommend building a solid character and playing it the best you can. I hate kid gloves.
For a new group, I'd build a leader or defender with MC leader and a power swap for an encounter heal to bail someone out if needed. Let the newer players play the strikers. And I'd recommend building a solid character and playing it the best you can. I hate kid gloves.


Did you read the whole post? The new players are playing a defender and a leader. Defenders don't play well together and a party of 3, or maybe 4 doesn't need two leaders.
I did. And my recommendation to let the newer players play the simpler role, and the experienced player to play the more complex role stands. At the very least, you can switch roles with one of the other players.
Its their first game, if they wanna play those roles they should play them. They're intereted in the classes, I'm not going to tell them to play a simpler class just so I can play the leader or defender. If one of them decides they wanna do something else, then I'll take over that role, but right now it's looking pretty solid. I told them I'd be happy to role-fill so they could play whatever they wanted.
Play a striker.  Pull some punches.  You can bail them out if things get hairy.

Edit:  I guess my advice is the same as Alcestisss.  I'd go Ranger.  You can show them how important multi/offturn/minor attacks are to killing stuff.  Invigorating Stride gives you mobility and self-sufficiency, cause that Bard might forget about keeping you upright.

Cry Havoc!  And let slip the hogs of war!

Avenger, and assure that Wis skills are covered. Intresting character to play, and you can go postal and burst down an enemy when you need to.
We're starting at 11, yeah I know, not exactly an ideal level for a new DM, but all the monsters she wants to use are in the paragon tier.

I would strongly urge the DM to reconsider. That's a horrible reason to start two new players at 11, and I'm pretty surprised no one else jumped on this. It's quite easy to level down monsters or just refluff some kobolds or something.

I'd say your best chance of making a bard and swordmage shine is by crippling monsters as a controller so the newbies have an easier time with them.
We're starting at 11, yeah I know, not exactly an ideal level for a new DM, but all the monsters she wants to use are in the paragon tier.

I would strongly urge the DM to reconsider. That's a horrible reason to start two new players at 11, and I'm pretty surprised no one else jumped on this. It's quite easy to level down monsters or just refluff some kobolds or something.

I'd say your best chance of making a bard and swordmage shine is by crippling monsters as a controller so the newbies have an easier time with them.


She's an experienced player (the DM), and our two new players aren't new to roleplaying, just to D&D. So I think they'll catch on fairly quickly, and the game doesn't become increasingly difficult to learn with levels, you just get access to more stuff to do. Though I'll talk to her about maybe starting in 6-8, somewhere high heroic, it might be easier for everyone.

And yeah while playing a controller and crippling monsters might be fun for our new players it might disuade my sister from DMing if the monsters she chooses and the encounters she builds are just kicked around by me. I don't imagine she'll be making extremely challenging encounters to begin with, probalby just par for the course, so I'm more interesting in letting the new players shine, but being able to have fun myself and possibly bail them out if they really get into it.
I think a centered breath monk is the right idea. It gives a range of options and control.

The other option is optimizing for utility. A striker who could be top-tier, but instead say hybrids into controller might be a technically bad CharOp choice, but it will mean you'll be able to do something effective always, without turning into the star of the table.
I think a centered breath monk is the right idea. It gives a range of options and control. The other option is optimizing for utility. A striker who could be top-tier, but instead say hybrids into controller might be a technically bad CharOp choice, but it will mean you'll be able to do something effective always, without turning into the star of the table.


I was considering a striker/controller hybrid. The psion/avenger build intrigued me but psion control is just SO hard even if you only have 1 at-will, I felt it might be a bit much. I might take a look at some combinations, too bad there is no practical fighter/wizard in 4th, I miss that jazz.
I think a centered breath monk is the right idea. It gives a range of options and control. The other option is optimizing for utility. A striker who could be top-tier, but instead say hybrids into controller might be a technically bad CharOp choice, but it will mean you'll be able to do something effective always, without turning into the star of the table.


I was considering a striker/controller hybrid. The psion/avenger build intrigued me but psion control is just SO hard even if you only have 1 at-will, I felt it might be a bit much. I might take a look at some combinations, too bad there is no practical fighter/wizard in 4th, I miss that jazz.



I think you might want to consider the option of deliberately playing a sub-par build concept, then optimize around that build concept. A non-genasi(say an Elf or Eladrin) melee Ranger|Wizard who starts with a post-racial 16 Str/18 Int might sound ridiculous. That doesn't mean it is unplayble at most tables, especially in a group with two new players where the DM knows you're not trying to break the game.
hmmm hard one. A lazy warlord or a pacifisty cleric or something like that would shine in letting others take the limelight while still making sure they don't die and stuff, but with that party it would be rather redundant.

Hmmm welll I guess I would just take a pyromancer mage and just pick a few controller power. A monk could work being a striker with good defences.

You could ofcourse just "steal" a sample hero and just use that. They are usaully not great, but not terrible either.
I'm with the "play a good character but hold back" option.
As an example: make a Archer Ranger, which is fairly easy to optimize, without going to the extremes to keep it simpler. Your power selection and most obvious feats make the character good enough without touching anything too complex to remember. Then play as it's needed: spread attacks around most of the times (which is easy with such a character, given the sheer number of your attacks), let the others have the kill shot as Alcestis said, and if the group ever gets in a tight pinch, you can pull 'em out by exploding all your resources on the bad guy.
You'll be contributing without being in the spotlight all the time, and have the chance to pull out the big guns when you need to, or when the others catch up with 4E mechanics. This example also works well with stats, since you'll be using Dex/Wis.
The problem with holding back is that it teaches bad tactics to the other players. It also makes it difficult for the DM to learn how to properly challenge the group.

And quite frankly, D&D is a lot more interesting when you can't just push an 'I win' button.
a cleric ?
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Play a wizard blaster. More iconic to the newbie crowd and yet you do have those emergency dailies to save your party when things go south.

 Pixie preda-charger druid, maybe? It's a pretty middle-of-the-road striker (especially without claw gloves and/or the full set of charging gear), and if you split your power/feat choices between striking and controlling you're not going to be unintentionally outshining anyone... You can even do a fair amount of opping and still not waste the DM's encounters.

I refuffed mine into a talking bird - a fey crow spirit who prefers to spend his time in bird form. Lotta good RP opportunity there.

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There are reasons they call me Mad...

I would say play a somewhat optimized Striker, and play stupidly.

That way, you can actually save the party if it needs saving, but you will generally let them feeling important enough. Also, that way you can slowly become more effective, pushing them to become more effective with you.
Involve the other players in making your character? Make it a group effort. As you're doing this, offer suggestions to their suggestions and maybe teach them along the way. If you involve the DM as well, it might be to everyone's benefit. You might end up with a decently optomized character while not "surprising" anyone with what you can do, and give everyone a heads up. They might change their characters after this process, and the DM should be more aware of what you can do.
Play a Drunken Master!

Warlord.  Grab some push enhancers.  Position yourself to use Opening Shove to send enemies back to everyone else with a granted attack tacked on.

Bargle wrote:
This is CharOp. We not only assume block-of-tofu monsters, but also block-of-tofu DMs.
 

Zelink wrote:
You're already refluffing, why not refluff to something that doesn't suck?
Involve the other players in making your character? Make it a group effort. As you're doing this, offer suggestions to their suggestions and maybe teach them along the way. If you involve the DM as well, it might be to everyone's benefit. You might end up with a decently optomized character while not "surprising" anyone with what you can do, and give everyone a heads up. They might change their characters after this process, and the DM should be more aware of what you can do.


We were planning on all making characters together since I have much more proficiency with it than my sister, and obviously the two newbies. Maybe I'll just ask them questions like what other classes they think are cool and play one of those, so they can see it in play as well as the ones they chose.
I don't recommend using suboptimal tactics.  Play your build as well as you can.

There is a difference between Optimization and High Optimization when it comes to builds.  You can make a reasonably optimized build, but if you stay clear of the High Optimization tricks, your build will be effective without overshadowing the rest of the party.
Take the Blue (but not Sky Blue or Gold) options from the guidebooks (like a Sorcerer without Flame Spiral, or a non-Daggermaster Rogue).
Avoid the frost package or other energy damage type tricks.
Use a race/class combination that gives only primary or secondary (but not both) stat bonuses, or play an undersupported race.
Optimize around an unconventional but resource-intensive trick (like Paragon Multiclassing).
Optimize an otherwise second-rate class (like an Essentials striker).
TOOTHPICKS
"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.
Daggermaster stopped being top of the line ages ago...

Anyway, my take is to play a class off-role. Run a Straladin as a striker, or build a Warlock as a controller. You get to stretch a fair bit of optimization muscle, but without those builds ever besting the optimized builds that actually perform according to their role.
Anyway, my take is to play a class off-role. Run a Straladin as a striker, or build a Warlock as a controller. You get to stretch a fair bit of optimization muscle, but without those builds ever besting the optimized builds that actually perform according to their role.


That's not a bad idea.
I think Druid, like Alcestis said, is a good idea, is a fun class, with lots of options, not a top class but is still good, and it covers WIS skills. If you avoid charge OP, you can still pick good feats and powers, nobody will be overshadowed.

I would not play an hybrid, because is harder for new players to understand your class, in my experience new players want to learn, and they look at others characters too (powers, features, feats...) and try to understand them.

Starting at level 11 is bad too (as you know), and will make the first combats very very slow.
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