Players should always build optimized characters in RPGA

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This only applies to RPGA games. It does not apply to home games; people may play home games however they like.





Roleplaying does not increase your chances of winning, it does not grant you bonuses to rolls, and will not save your character from death.

There are only three things that will keep you alive (a.k.a. determine encounter success):
Rolls (uncontrollable)
Character Build/Stats (controllable)
Decisions (controllable)

Rolls:
Completely random and uncontrollable, so this cannot be optimized. Things that let you change or modify your roll are part of your powers/abilities and thus fall into Character Build/Stats, not Rolls. And of course, players should not be cheating when they roll (cutting edges of their die so that the 20 appears more often, using rolling techniques, etc). If that is a problem, just use a random number generator program.

Character Build/Stats:
Stats, abilities, equipment, feats, etc. These are all controllable and increase your chances of success. When you attack an enemy, it is your attack roll versus the enemy's defense. When you perform a skill check, it is your stats versus the opposing DC. So players should pick the race, class, stats, etc. that best optimizes their character.
On a similar note, players are not supposed to know what the adventure is like ahead of time, so it is best to try to have an optimized, well balanced party in order to deal with all possible challenges.

Decisions:
Controllable. Players should be optimizing their turns and actions. Failure to do so increases your chances of dying. So know your abilities, don't forget bonuses, target low defenses, and make the best tactical decisions possible.

In order to tailor to lots of players, RPGA games and what determines success must be very simple, structured, and mainstream. As a result, these adventures play out like a boardgame, where success is determined by numbers and not roleplaying. If you do not optimize your numbers, you increase your chances of failing encounters, which increases your chances of dying. I don't know about you, but I hate dying. When you die you lose potential experience, gold, items, and most importantly, time. It takes so many adventures and so much time to level your character, so increasing that amount of time is just frustrating.

In order to avoid this waste of time, always build an optimized character... or just don't play at all.
[VCL HAT]

DarkFel, you're entitled to your opinion, and certainly welcome to avoid playing with other players who choose to play unoptimized characters, but the RPGA is a big tent, and you should recognize that "play my way, or don't bother to play at all" is asking for strong reactions.

Going to give this a chance for some productive discussion, but if it does go into flaming, I'll ask to have it locked.

Play nicely.

[/VCL HAT]
"Of course [Richard] has a knife. He always has a knife. We all have knives. It's 1183, and we're barbarians!" - Eleanor of Aquitaine, "The Lion in Winter"
ok, i will bite. Althought I probably should not....

"Roleplaying does not increase your chances of winning"

What is winning? You get a slip of paper with some story rewards? You get max XP and gold and a pick from a bundle? You get bragging rites that you made it through mod TROL1-1 with out anyone getting bloodied? That you can nova with an action point and kill 1/2 an encounter by your self if you roll lucky? That you can whip out that calculator and prove that you do more DPR with your build than mine?

For me and most of the people I have encounted through playing LFR, winning is about having fun. Fun is not quantitative. Fun is qualitiative and varies from person to person...surely you know this. If you have fun building optimized characters...more power to you. Me? I want to play at a table where one player can quote rules from the PHB, one player likes to quote Princess Bride A LOT, one player is min/maxed to the hilt, one player has never played at a con before, one player only speaks in funny voices, and one player whose character is so fluffed up that you can't tell what class they are. And all of them are eating pizza, rolling dice and laughing....and guess what they just TKP'd. That to me is a win.

Some of my best moments playing D&D were dying. I remember them all. Some random combat that we breezed through? I don't remember any of them. But that time I grabbed that gem and exploded....THAT I remember. We all had a blast. I won. That was over 15 years ago.....we still talk about it today.

And now playing RPGA and LFR. At a recent con I attended a player was playing an invoker that was so fluffed up that you could not tell what class he was. He was not optimized or min/maxed or whatever. I guarantee that if I ever see him again....I will remember guarding the mules with Verse the enforcer of Oghma. I could care less about the XP, gold, or paper slip. For me (and everyone at that table) it was about the fun and experiences we had together. If you feel different, I am not going to tell you how to play. But I will say that I think you might be playing the wrong game.
Ah, Verse...Yes, that character is awesome. I'd play with him any time.

Really, I think it's not so much optimization that everyone should have, so much as the awareness of the level of optimization their character has. Someone might naively build a character with a 14 in the primary stat and expect it to work well, resulting in unhappiness when it doesn't perform. However, purposefully putting a 12 in your primary stat, knowing what will happen and how to cope, is far superior.
I swear this thread was made just to produce pointless arguments. It's not that hard to get me into a heated discussion, but it's not this easy.
What were the moment shwne I though I had 'won' the game?

- When a character finally, after five years of denial, admitted to be in love with another character, and had that love returned
- When another character accepted a proposal of marriage.
- When a character, after an epic battle, had a silver dragon raised from the dead
- When we fought a dragon, and managed to down it in the last action we had before it would have killed all of us. This would not have been such a victory if we had had it easy.
- When my character threw herself inf ront of a prisoner to take a hit from another character intend to kill him. the prisoner later turned on us, but I still think I 'won' at that point.

There are a lot of other examples I don't have time for to write down.
'Winning' is not [necessarily] about getting xp, gold, or killing monsters. It is [IMHO] about having cool dramatic moments that drive your character and the story, and that you still remember several years later [which may consist of the aforementioned if that drives you, but not necessarily].
Alle else is a lot of fun and excitement, but it has little to do with 'winning' [according to this definition].

Edit: made a few adjustments to the definition.
What were the moment shwne I though I had 'won' the game?

- When a character finally, after five years of denial, admitted to be in love with another character, and had that love returned
- When another character accepted a proposal of marriage.
- When a character, after an epic battle, had a silver dragon raised from the dead
- When we fought a dragon, and managed to down it in the last action we had before it would have killed all of us. This would not have been such a victory if we had had it easy.
- When my character threw herself inf ront of a prisoner to take a hit from another character intend to kill him. the prisoner later turned on us, but I still think I 'won' at that point.

There are a lot of other examples I don't have time for to write down.
'Winning'is not about getting xp, gold, or killing monsters. It is about having cool dramatic moments that drive your character and the story, and that you still remember several years later.
Alle else is a lot of fun and excitement, but it has little to do with 'winning'.

To be fair, we're asking him to not define how to play the game, lets not turn it around and tell him what winning means (even though I agree with you gomez), to the OP maybe winning IS being the guy who can kill the room in one turn without using an action point, who are we to tell him that's the wrong way to play, if that's what he finds fun. I suggest we just let the guy say his thing as he did, ignore it and hope he'll just go away since he obviously feels differently about it than most of us or is just trying to provoke responses.
Blah blah blah
Do I understand why someone would make a dwarven swordmage? No. But its that persons perogative to build one.

Someone building a dwarven swordmage is just absolutely full of win.

I don't see any problem in the OP ideas-it reminds me of the kind of arguments you would make in Physics etc. It has some potential for being an interesting post, but I am not sure what the end gain would be.
Dark... err... whatever your overly generic bad guy name is,

You are forgetting one x-factor. In every game, there is a DM. And, the DM, not the adventure makes the final decision on what rewards you get.

As a DM, I can decide how much experience you get, how much gold you get, what items from the adventure you get access to, and what story awards you earn. Per the guidelines written into the first page of the adventure, I can use my own judgment for all of those things, I can be reasonably arbitrary in my judgment, and I can give different rewards to different characters.

If player A roleplays with the village chieftan and player B simply stares at his I-Pod waiting for the next fight, I can choose to give the 40 minor quest XP, 10 gold paid by the chieftan, and access to +2 Frost Weapon to player A and not to player B. Similarly, if player A roleplays with the big bad guy before the fight and player B simply attacks without a word, I can have the monsters focus damage on player B. Heck, if both characters fall, I can have the monsters coup de grace player B and stabilize player A.

Choose not to roleplay, if that is your will. It will hurt you in obtaining your win conditions in any game I run. And, I will not warn you of this before you sit at my table. If all you do is not roleplay or roleplay counter to your character in order to get the prize, it will be only a slight loss. If you make the game less fun for other players at the table due to your attitude, I will strip rewards much more aggressively.

No, I am not cheating or being vindictive. I am applying a set of guidelines that is actually written into the adventures. Creativity and roleplay are encouraged and many rewards in the adventure require these things. DME allows a DM to make slight modifications, like moving where treasure or other rewards appear in the adventure or adjusting how they are earned.

Be well.

-SYB
Dark... err... whatever your overly generic bad guy name is,

You are forgetting one x-factor. In every game, there is a DM. And, the DM, not the adventure makes the final decision on what rewards you get.

As a DM, I can decide how much experience you get, how much gold you get, what items from the adventure you get access to, and what story awards you earn. Per the guidelines written into the first page of the adventure, I can use my own judgment for all of those things, I can be reasonably arbitrary in my judgment, and I can give different rewards to different characters.

If player A roleplays with the village chieftan and player B simply stares at his I-Pod waiting for the next fight, I can choose to give the 40 minor quest XP, 10 gold paid by the chieftan, and access to +2 Frost Weapon to player A and not to player B. Similarly, if player A roleplays with the big bad guy before the fight and player B simply attacks without a word, I can have the monsters focus damage on player B. Heck, if both characters fall, I can have the monsters coup de grace player B and stabilize player A.

Choose not to roleplay, if that is your will. It will hurt you in obtaining your win conditions in any game I run. And, I will not warn you of this before you sit at my table. If all you do is not roleplay or roleplay counter to your character in order to get the prize, it will be only a slight loss. If you make the game less fun for other players at the table due to your attitude, I will strip rewards much more aggressively.

No, I am not cheating or being vindictive. I am applying a set of guidelines that is actually written into the adventures. Creativity and roleplay are encouraged and many rewards in the adventure require these things. DME allows a DM to make slight modifications, like moving where treasure or other rewards appear in the adventure or adjusting how they are earned.

Be well.

-SYB

Ah the horrors DME. Please remind me to never play at your table.

As for the subject at hand, while I do not agree with the OP I do believe that every player has a certain responsibility to be at least minimally effective. The game may be all about fun but you owe it to the other players to be capable and willing to fulfill whatever role your character is supposed to fill. It's fairly safe to assume that your party members don't have fun failing the objective because they have to carry you.

In LG you could get away with having two contributing party members and four others along for the ride. In LFR this doesn't work nearly as well. Everyone needs to do their part. So while I disagree that we all need to be 18 Str/18 Con warforged fighters please leave your 14 dex/14 cha tiefling rogues at home too.
This only applies to RPGA games. It does not apply to home games; people may play home games however they like.





Roleplaying does not increase your chances of winning, it does not grant you bonuses to rolls, and will not save your character from death.

There are only three things that will keep you alive (a.k.a. determine encounter success):
Rolls (uncontrollable)
Character Build/Stats (controllable)
Decisions (controllable)

Rolls:
Completely random and uncontrollable, so this cannot be optimized. Things that let you change or modify your roll are part of your powers/abilities and thus fall into Character Build/Stats, not Rolls. And of course, players should not be cheating when they roll (cutting edges of their die so that the 20 appears more often, using rolling techniques, etc). If that is a problem, just use a random number generator program.

Character Build/Stats:
Stats, abilities, equipment, feats, etc. These are all controllable and increase your chances of success. When you attack an enemy, it is your attack roll versus the enemy's defense. When you perform a skill check, it is your stats versus the opposing DC. So players should pick the race, class, stats, etc. that best optimizes their character.
On a similar note, players are not supposed to know what the adventure is like ahead of time, so it is best to try to have an optimized, well balanced party in order to deal with all possible challenges.

Decisions:
Controllable. Players should be optimizing their turns and actions. Failure to do so increases your chances of dying. So know your abilities, don't forget bonuses, target low defenses, and make the best tactical decisions possible.

In order to tailor to lots of players, RPGA games and what determines success must be very simple, structured, and mainstream. As a result, these adventures play out like a boardgame, where success is determined by numbers and not roleplaying. If you do not optimize your numbers, you increase your chances of failing encounters, which increases your chances of dying. I don't know about you, but I hate dying. When you die you lose potential experience, gold, items, and most importantly, time. It takes so many adventures and so much time to level your character, so increasing that amount of time is just frustrating.

In order to avoid this waste of time, always build an optimized character... or just don't play at all.

For every action there is an equal and opposite reaction players are "cogs" in the party "machine" some times small "cogs" are preferable to larger ones. In evolution the more optimized a creature is to their enviroment the harder it becomes for that creature to adapt when a rapid change in conditions occurres. One needs flexibility in addition to being optimized but if the charactor isn't optimized and still performs a funtion at the table that's okay. Because the non optimized charactor is still doing something at the table nobody else capable of even if he could be doing it better.
I do believe that every player has a certain responsibility to be at least minimally effective. The game may be all about fun but you owe it to the other players to be capable and willing to fulfill whatever role your character is supposed to fill. It's fairly safe to assume that your party members don't have fun failing the objective because they have to carry you.

Whilst agreeing with Gomez in general, I have to say *this* to the above for LFR specifically.
Normally I disagree with Ferol, but I do agree that players should know what they are doing when it comes to their character. There are newbies that are exempt, of course, but otherwise, one should know what their powers/items/class features do and also be not terrible with them. Having been at a party where someone had to be carried because their build was an awesome at lvl 16 build, but otherwise not functional. It wasn't fun, especially since it was a special.
Otherwise, just try to have fun.

P.S. As far as a 14dex/14cha tiefling rogue goes, I know someone who could make it work. Who cares when your + to hit is 5 when you just roll 18s and above,lol






BTW: I apologize a bit to the moderator for my first post. It may have been a bit too brash, but righteous indignation does that to people.
While this couldn't be a more obvious troll if it were signed Olaf McTrollersen, this is a topic worth discussing every so often, so I'll bite.

There are a few general principles on this topic that I would advocate:
  • Your fun is not necessarily better or worse than someone else's fun.
The reason we spend our time on this hobby is to have fun. If you're having fun playing a goofy ineffective concept character, or, conversely, playing a min-maxed uber-combat-effective character, that does not make you a better or worse person than others.

It does, however, mean that you should find a gaming group that has fun the same way you have fun, and if you're in a situation (random convention tables, small local gaming circle) where you can't find anyone who likes your type of fun, you may want to find some other way to have fun.

That would be because of the following:
  • People like playing with other people who increase their fun.
If people in your gaming circle enjoy convoluted back stories and intricate roleplaying, a player who creates nameless combat machines is not a good fit. Conversely, if your group is playing LFR as a beer-and-pretzels game where successfully completing combats is the primary aim, a character whose primary effect on combat is the extra creature the DM adds because of his presence is unlikely to be welcome.

Like, I would expect, most convention-goers, I enjoy playing with people whose characters are designed to contribute, who know how to use their character tactically and roleplay the character entertainingly. Pick at least two.

Because, when you get right down to it, this conversation is simply about who you enjoy playing with and who enjoys playing with you. Gamers are a notoriously conflict-averse group; you have to be pretty far from the mean to have someone flat out refuse to play with you.

Rather, the issue is how much it bothers you to find out you're not necessarily a group's first choice and how much it decreases your fun when it becomes apparent that a group would have preferred that you play a different character or had found another table. And, well, if your answers are "A lot", then see point one about the need to either find a group that has fun the same way you do or conform your method of fun-seeking to the group you have.

I think it's common courtesy to abide by the fun-seeking norms of whatever group you've joined; this goes double in a convention atmosphere where there's an implicit understanding that a table of total strangers will welcome and include you in their fun for four hours.

Though I have a strong bias for competent, capable characters, I wouldn't claim that only optimized PCs need apply--if you're tactically brilliant, it makes up for a character that wouldn't be as effective in someone else's hands; if you're entertaining enough, you might be able to make me forget your relative lack of meaningful participation in combat.

It's a sliding scale, however, where the various components have to add up to some magic number.* I recently played at a random low-level convention table with a player who had a dwarf paladin with 12 Str/Cha and 18 Wis/Con ("It's a concept character!"). I would not make a blanket statement that I never want such a PC at my table, but the sheer amount of entertainment that player would have to generate to make up for his mechanical impotence would certainly be a wonder to behold.

Which brings me to my corollary:
  • You are not as entertaining or tactically brilliant as you think you are.
That's the generic "you", myself not excluded.

What your group finds amusing, endearing or interesting may just irritate the heck out of a random convention table. Random DMs aren't always going to let you get away with "interesting" uses of powers; maneuvers that work brilliantly with a particular group of friends are likely to be less so with a group of random strangers and diverse PCs.

A well-designed character, however, is likely to remain so even in situations where your entertainment value fades and your tactical skills are insufficient. The idea that, "Hey, I don't have to make an effective character because I play him so well and I'm such a good roleplayer" makes assumptions about those latter two facts that may not necessarily always be true.

And, of course, let's not get caught up in false dichotomies. An optimized character can be roleplayed just as easily as one deliberately handicapped; an effectively-designed character can be played tactically just as much (if not more so) as an ineffective one.

-- Brian Gibbons.
*
42 or over 9000, depending on the game system.
Which brings me to my corollary:
  • You are not as entertaining or tactically brilliant as you think you are.
That's the generic "you", myself not excluded.

-- Brian Gibbons.
*
42 or over 9000, depending on the game system.

/Falsetto voice on
Nailed It
/Falsetto voice off
Blah blah blah
I don't know about you

This part is pretty true.
to the OP maybe winning IS being the guy who can kill the room in one turn without using an action point

Well, that falls withing my definition of winning, but I'll makes small adjustment to my post.
Dark... err... whatever your overly generic bad guy name is,

You are forgetting one x-factor. In every game, there is a DM. And, the DM, not the adventure makes the final decision on what rewards you get.

As a DM, I can decide how much experience you get, how much gold you get, what items from the adventure you get access to, and what story awards you earn. Per the guidelines written into the first page of the adventure, I can use my own judgment for all of those things, I can be reasonably arbitrary in my judgment, and I can give different rewards to different characters.

If player A roleplays with the village chieftan and player B simply stares at his I-Pod waiting for the next fight, I can choose to give the 40 minor quest XP, 10 gold paid by the chieftan, and access to +2 Frost Weapon to player A and not to player B. Similarly, if player A roleplays with the big bad guy before the fight and player B simply attacks without a word, I can have the monsters focus damage on player B. Heck, if both characters fall, I can have the monsters coup de grace player B and stabilize player A.

Choose not to roleplay, if that is your will. It will hurt you in obtaining your win conditions in any game I run. And, I will not warn you of this before you sit at my table. If all you do is not roleplay or roleplay counter to your character in order to get the prize, it will be only a slight loss. If you make the game less fun for other players at the table due to your attitude, I will strip rewards much more aggressively.

No, I am not cheating or being vindictive. I am applying a set of guidelines that is actually written into the adventures. Creativity and roleplay are encouraged and many rewards in the adventure require these things. DME allows a DM to make slight modifications, like moving where treasure or other rewards appear in the adventure or adjusting how they are earned.

Be well.

-SYB

This is, in my opinion, the absolute WORST attitude that an RPGA DM could have. I'm not condoning the opinions presented by the OP in any way. However, all players enjoy the game in their own ways. Some players enjoy role-play exclusively, some enjoy combat exclusively, others enjoy both. It's not fair to penalize anyone based on your own preferences. As an RPGA judge, it is your responsibility to facilitate a fun game for all to the best of your ability.

Normally, I don't agree with Ferol. However, I wouldn't ever want to play at your table either, and I'm an avid fan of both strategic play (which includes building optimized PCs) and role-playing.
Dave Kay LFR Writing Director Retiree dkay807 [at] yahoo [dot] com
This only applies to RPGA games. It does not apply to home games; people may play home games however they like.



.

Even here your wrong there are lots of instances in mods that provided bonuses for role playing and there is an exp bump for mods that end a major quest. Plus there are a number of RPGA DMs that use the DME clause to do all kinds of things like make combats harder or change the order in which PC's face certain combats. If a DM finds a player using a skill in a unique fashion under DME he's perfectly entitled to give a bonus or conversely make the DC even harder. I've also read posts from people who run home brews that base their house rules on RPGA guidelines so your blanket statement would appy to them as well. In the end it's really just impossible to exclude an entire group of gamers because they don't belong to our organization there is just to much over lap.
/Falsetto voice on
Nailed It
/Falsetto voice off

I'll agree with this criticism, but also enter an additional criticism:

What, precisely, is your definition of 'optimized'?

If you're going by the definition presented on the related optimization boards here, then I have to say your definition is highly limited -- the ideal party, based on my reading of the local optimization boards, would be a dwarven battlerager, two twin-strike rangers, a tactical warlord, and an orb-lock wizard, all of whom happen to worship Tempus**. If those are the only parties you want to play in, that's fine, and it's up to you to make sure that any table you sit down at meets your specifications.

** - Admittedly, things have changed since the announcement of the August errata, but prior to this week, the point was perfectly valid. Plus, even with the changes, all that's going to change on the optimization boards is that new builds will replace the 'nerfed' ones as preferred in min-max circles.

Sadly, you won't be sitting down at many of our tables if you insist on those specifications, seeing as how we feature a star-pact warlock who goes by the nickname of 'Sponge', a conjuration/zone wizard who every so often finds himself using three 'sustain minor' actions as his entire turn, and a mordenkrad-wielding dwarven cleric who's the closest thing to bottled awesome we've discovered.

We have optimized characters. We just don't have optimized characters as defined my most folks who post to the optimization boards, because they don't follow the same paths as those other folks do. We don't find anything wrong with this, but if you do, then I feel badly for you, because you're missing out on some excellent gaming.

--
Pauper
I don't understand the purpose of this thread but I will say this:

People can choose, in a sense, to turn on and off roleplaying for an individual mod depending on what the other players and GM enjoy.

People with optimzed PCs can choose, in a sense, to turn on or off that optimization for an individual mod (through delaying or choosing non-gamebreaking actions, for example) in order to let other players share the spotlight depending on what the other players and GM enjoy.

HOWEVER, a player with an non-optimized PC can't choose to be optimal for a mod depending on what other players enjoy: People aren't allowed to bump stats or anything else except as the rules allow.

Thus, when you choose to make a 'concept character' you are choosing to play a specific way for the next 90+ mods you play with that character, regardless of what those 90 tables may want.

Something to think about.

Brayden Glad
Dealing with WotC customer service is like milking an emu... You might get scratched, bitten or kicked, or might simply be ignored, but you won't be successful... and people will think you odd for trying.
In my opinion, people should try to build reliable characters, be it flavor or numbers, maybe both but certainly not required. I'm there to have fun and can in many ways. If a new player is trying to build a character and misses the mark on efficiency but has a "plan" for RP or combat, I can enjoy that more than the most "optimized" character trying to flip a kill switch. Or if someone built a fun character with personality but maybe a bit lower on the power curve.

As a DM, I will use DME when needed to make the game more fun for the people playing. It's usually to add flavor but may raise or lower the difficulty. I would simply prefer a player have a solid idea of what he/she wants the character to do so I can work with that.
I'm really wondering what game you are playing? Risk of dying? In 4.0 LFR? It is very difficult to even knock someone down to negative HPs -- to actually have a PC killed -- well that risk is minimal at best (at least in my XP).

So I think building an optimized character is much less important in 4.0 LFR than it was in 3.5 LG, for example. I still like to do it, but a bunch of average characters can defeat LFR encounters just fine.

Daren

[snip]

Roleplaying does not increase your chances of winning, it does not grant you bonuses to rolls, and will not save your character from death.

There are only three things that will keep you alive ...[snip]

If you do not optimize your numbers, you increase your chances of failing encounters, which increases your chances of dying. I don't know about you, but I hate dying. When you die you lose potential experience, gold, items, and most importantly, time. It takes so many adventures and so much time to level your character, so increasing that amount of time is just frustrating.

In order to avoid this waste of time, always build an optimized character... or just don't play at all.

I think you actually have to do your best to make a character that is ineffective.
Make sure your primary stat is high enough (at least 16, preferably higher), and there should be little problem as long as you use the powers that you can wield best at least regularly.

Gomez
I'm really wondering what game you are playing? Risk of dying? In 4.0 LFR? It is very difficult to even knock someone down to negative HPs -- to actually have a PC killed -- well that risk is minimal at best (at least in my XP).

So I think building an optimized character is much less important in 4.0 LFR than it was in 3.5 LG, for example. I still like to do it, but a bunch of average characters can defeat LFR encounters just fine.

Daren

Play some of the newer mods. They'll put the fear of failure back into you. Up the butt.
In order to tailor to lots of players, RPGA games and what determines success must be very simple, structured, and mainstream. As a result, these adventures play out like a boardgame, where success is determined by numbers and not roleplaying.

They do? I must be playing another game then... (Of course, the real irony is that even when played as a boardgame often numbers, assuming at least a normal character (one not purposely made weak), take a backseat to tactical skill of players and DM.)
This only applies to RPGA games. It does not apply to home games; people may play home games however they like.
Roleplaying does not increase your chances of winning, it does not grant you bonuses to rolls, and will not save your character from death..

These are not competitive games...so I'm assuming your defining winning as "successfully completing the module." Other people may define winning differently from you, so to make a statement like
...always build an optimized character... or just don't play at all

is incredibly self centered and short sighted.

Even playing an optimized character is not a guarantee for success...and in the long run copying optimized builds leads to a narrowed appreciation of the total game. I believe you're better off playing a character you've built using the powers that you're comfortable playing rather than copying an optimized build and playing powers that you may not understand fully.

I do not know how to ice skate. You could hand me the best pair of ice skates in the world and I won't be able to work them. I am, however, an excellent runner. You can hand me some middle of the road running shoes and I'll still be able to run a seven minute mile.

As another community member has already posted...you have to go out of your way to create a really poorly built character; and to purposely play a junk character in order to sabotage a game session should be unilaterally discouraged. But to lock people into playing what amounts to nothing more than a pre-generated build flies in the face of what role playing games are all about.
While it is clear that the OP is just trolling (do stop replying directly to him folks, he's clearly left), there could be a debate here.

My view is that while you are free to be able to play whatever you want, I do expect the characters I sit down with to display a basic ability to perform their stated role. It doesn't even necessarily have to be their class role (these days I describe my warlock more as a controller than a striker), but you have to bring something to a combat.

As has been pointed out, it's hard to build a really useless character, and I'm not demanding any CharOp madness (I hate most of those builds). Just a 16-18 (post racial) in your primary, 14+ in your secondary and choice of feats and powers that you can use effectively (e.g. don't pick backstabber as a feat in you're a multiclass rogue and only get sneak attack once per encounter, or a Cha paladin power when you've got 18 Str and 12 Cha).

Is that fair? To be honest, I don't really want to sit down at a con opposite Stumpy McUseless, the charming Dwarf fighter with a 12 strength, and have my character die as a result. When my PCs die, I want it to be my fault!
I've seen two types of players at LFR, and each type tends to irritate the other.

1) There's the roll player. They build their character to cruise through modules. Skill challenges become a matter of simply rolling more than 3 on the die for whatever the called for skill is. Combat is a matter of applying their well-chosen powers at the least personal risk. The goal in the module is to complete it with max XP and GP.

2) There's the role player. They build their character to fulfill some concept that they visualize. Skill challenges become a place to act out what their character will do in a specific situation, regardless of what the dice come out as. Combat becomes a time to be a hero, or a coward, depending on the role. The goal of the module is to further the character's backstory.

I've played both (and to some extent I still play both, though I'm slowly shifting towards role playing).

The roll players see the role player as a time-wasting distraction, and a potential threat to their XP/GP reward.

The role players see the roll player as little more than automatons on auto-pilot.

Our FLGS table has an almost even division between the two groups, and it's an uneasy truce right now.

(I will admit to having destroyed any hope of winning a skill challenge because I acted in a way consistent with my character, without regard for the consequences to the group. Two other members of the group took it in stride and enjoyed the role playing aspect. Three members were quite upset at the loss of xp for the night. In retrospect, I'm quite certain that I would do exactly the same things over again.)
While it is clear that the OP is just trolling (do stop replying directly to him folks, he's clearly left), there could be a debate here.

My view is that while you are free to be able to play whatever you want, I do expect the characters I sit down with to display a basic ability to perform their stated role. It doesn't even necessarily have to be their class role (these days I describe my warlock more as a controller than a striker), but you have to bring something to a combat.

As has been pointed out, it's hard to build a really useless character, and I'm not demanding any CharOp madness (I hate most of those builds). Just a 16-18 (post racial) in your primary, 14+ in your secondary and choice of feats and powers that you can use effectively (e.g. don't pick backstabber as a feat in you're a multiclass rogue and only get sneak attack once per encounter, or a Cha paladin power when you've got 18 Str and 12 Cha).

Is that fair? To be honest, I don't really want to sit down at a con opposite Stumpy McUseless, the charming Dwarf fighter with a 12 strength, and have my character die as a result. When my PCs die, I want it to be my fault!

Oh great. Now I absolutely have to build the guy.

Stumpy McUseless - dwarf fighter. 12 str.

====== Created Using Wizards of the Coast D&D Character Builder ======
level 1
Dwarf, Fighter
Build: Battlerager Fighter
Fighter Talents: Battlerager Vigor
Background: Aglarond

FINAL ABILITY SCORES
Str 12, Con 18, Dex 10, Int 10, Wis 18, Cha 10.

STARTING ABILITY SCORES
Str 12, Con 16, Dex 10, Int 10, Wis 16, Cha 10.


AC: 10 Fort: 16 Reflex: 10 Will: 14
HP: 33 Surges: 13 Surge Value: 8

TRAINED SKILLS
Streetwise +5, Athletics +6, Perception +10

UNTRAINED SKILLS
Acrobatics, Arcana, Bluff, Diplomacy, Dungeoneering +6, Endurance +6, Heal +4, History, Insight +4, Intimidate, Nature +4, Religion, Stealth, Thievery

FEATS
Level 1: Devoted Challenge

POWERS
Fighter at-will 1: Brash Strike
Fighter at-will 1: Crushing Surge
Fighter encounter 1: Bell Ringer
Fighter daily 1: Knee Breaker

ITEMS
Maul, Scale Armor, Adventurer's Kit
====== Copy to Clipboard and Press the Import Button on the Summary Tab ======
2) There's the role player. They build their character to fulfill some concept that they visualize. Skill challenges become a place to act out what their character will do in a specific situation, regardless of what the dice come out as. Combat becomes a time to be a hero, or a coward, depending on the role. The goal of the module is to further the character's backstory.

[snip]

(I will admit to having destroyed any hope of winning a skill challenge because I acted in a way consistent with my character, without regard for the consequences to the group. Two other members of the group took it in stride and enjoyed the role playing aspect. Three members were quite upset at the loss of xp for the night. In retrospect, I'm quite certain that I would do exactly the same things over again.)

Depending on the actual context of the game--and note that I am not singling you or what happened in your game out specifically, but rather the definition of "role playing" you've put forth, which is acting "without regard for the consequences to the group"--I would actually call this selfish playing, not role playing. LFR isn't a home game. Putting your own personal "character" above and beyond the goals of the adventure regardless of the other members of your table is completely self-centered, and justifying it as "role playing" is just making excuses for the behavior.

LFR is still a cooperative, team game, much more than a home game is. Each adventure has a finite time to complete it, and each adventure does have an ultimate goal, whether it be to slay the BBEG, rescue the children, find an artifiact, recover a stolen item, or solve a mystery. IMHO, it is entirely possible to role play a character in accordance with those goals, and still be true to who that character is. If for some reason you feel it isn't possible for a given situation, then I'd suggest having your character act in such a way that does not jepordize the skill challenge or combat for the rest of the table.
Oh great. Now I absolutely have to build the guy.

Stumpy McUseless - dwarf fighter. 12 str.

====== Created Using Wizards of the Coast D&D Character Builder ======
level 1
Dwarf, Fighter
Build: Battlerager Fighter
Fighter Talents: Battlerager Vigor
Background: Aglarond


Actually, that character wouldn't be too bad. Well played, sir.

*Round of applause*
Depending on the actual context of the game--and note that I am not singling you or what happened in your game out specifically, but rather the definition of "role playing" you've put forth, which is acting "without regard for the consequences to the group"--I would actually call this selfish playing, not role playing. LFR isn't a home game. Putting your own personal "character" above and beyond the goals of the adventure regardless of the other members of your table is completely self-centered, and justifying it as "role playing" is just making excuses for the behavior.

LFR is still a cooperative, team game, much more than a home game is. Each adventure has a finite time to complete it, and each adventure does have an ultimate goal, whether it be to slay the BBEG, rescue the children, find an artifiact, recover a stolen item, or solve a mystery. IMHO, it is entirely possible to role play a character in accordance with those goals, and still be true to who that character is. If for some reason you feel it isn't possible for a given situation, then I'd suggest having your character act in such a way that does not jepordize the skill challenge or combat for the rest of the table.

I guess I should expand.

Module had character hired to protect X.
NPC attempts to threaten X.
Module is written that PC's should use diplomacy to mitigate threat.
Dwarf Battlerager (me) interposes self between X and NPC and actively prevents NPC from threatening X.
DM rules that this results in auto-fail of diplomacy to mitigate threat.
No xp from skill challenge.

Personally, I feel that the module in question provided a poor set up for the NPC encounter, as PC's role was clear, and encounter should have taken this into account. As stated previously, two other players at table felt that this action while rash, was an appropriate response.

I'll accept your admonishment that I perhaps should have sought a compromise that allowed my PC to be true to character while not losing skill challenge, but will counter that losing the skill challenge will be something long remembered, while winning it would have been just another encounter.
Actually, that character wouldn't be too bad. Well played, sir.

*Round of applause*

Many thanks.

Perhaps you can help me with:

One-Note Rat-Squeezer, Orc Bard

I'd really like to play a non-traditional orc. If I can make Bard work, I'd love to try it.
I guess I should expand.

Module had character hired to protect X.
NPC attempts to threaten X.
Module is written that PC's should use diplomacy to mitigate threat.
Dwarf Battlerager (me) interposes self between X and NPC and actively prevents NPC from threatening X.
DM rules that this results in auto-fail of diplomacy to mitigate threat.
No xp from skill challenge.

Personally, I feel that the module in question provided a poor set up for the NPC encounter, as PC's role was clear, and encounter should have taken this into account. As stated previously, two other players at table felt that this action while rash, was an appropriate response.

I'll accept your admonishment that I perhaps should have sought a compromise that allowed my PC to be true to character while not losing skill challenge, but will counter that losing the skill challenge will be something long remembered, while winning it would have been just another encounter.

In that situation, I'd actually agree that was an appropriate response, and say that your DM was a bit unfair in giving you an auto failure for that. He could have DME'd the skill challenge differently, and still made it work for the rest of the table.

LIke I said, I wasn't singling you or your game out specifically, but the idea that role playing is acting "without regard for the consequences to the group." Personally, I don't see that approach as any different from the OP's statement that all LFR characters and actions should be fully optimized regardless of any role playing decisions. They're both extremes of playing which, IMHO, ultimately results in unhappy players and DMs.
Many thanks.

Perhaps you can help me with:

One-Note Rat-Squeezer, Orc Bard

I'd really like to play a non-traditional orc. If I can make Bard work, I'd love to try it.

Hmmm. You could run with something like:

====== Created Using Wizards of the Coast D&D Character Builder ======
One-Note Rat-Squeezer, level 1
Orc, Bard
Build: Valorous Bard
Bardic Virtue: Virtue of Valor
Pact Initiate: Pact Initiate (infernal pact)

FINAL ABILITY SCORES
Str 16, Con 16, Dex 13, Int 10, Wis 8, Cha 16.

STARTING ABILITY SCORES
Str 14, Con 14, Dex 13, Int 10, Wis 8, Cha 16.


AC: 17 Fort: 13 Reflex: 13 Will: 14
HP: 28 Surges: 10 Surge Value: 7

TRAINED SKILLS
Arcana +5, Intimidate +8, Perception +4, Acrobatics +5, Diplomacy +8, Bluff +8

UNTRAINED SKILLS
Dungeoneering, Endurance +3, Heal, History +1, Insight, Nature, Religion +1, Stealth +1, Streetwise +4, Thievery +1, Athletics +3

FEATS
Bard: Ritual Caster
Level 1: Pact Initiate

POWERS
Bard at-will 1: War Song Strike
Bard at-will 1: Guiding Strike
Bard encounter 1: Inspiring Refrain
Bard daily 1: Slayer's Song

ITEMS
Ritual Book, Chainmail, Adventurer's Kit, Longsword, Light Shield, Implement, Wand
RITUALS
Glib Limerick, Comprehend Language
====== Copy to Clipboard and Press the Import Button on the Summary Tab ======


That might make an interesting, non-traditional Orc that may work.

Actually, I rather like that character. I might have to play him myself.
Characters don't really have to be optimized, but it is the rare player who won't be frustrated with the repeated missing of a character who doesn't start with an 18 in his primary stat. So some basic optimization is highly encouraged for maximum fun.

Perhaps the only exception would be a preplanned group of PCs, say everyone being of one race, which leads to no good way to cover one of the basic roles with an optimized character. Other characters would be much better optimized, so as a whole it would balance out.
While it is clear that the OP is just trolling (do stop replying directly to him folks, he's clearly left), there could be a debate here.

As has been pointed out, it's hard to build a really useless character, and I'm not demanding any CharOp madness (I hate most of those builds). Just a 16-18 (post racial) in your primary, 14+ in your secondary and choice of feats and powers that you can use effectively (e.g. don't pick backstabber as a feat in you're a multiclass rogue and only get sneak attack once per encounter, or a Cha paladin power when you've got 18 Str and 12 Cha).

Huh? What's wrong with a low CHA STRaladin picking Radiant Delirium as a Lvl 1 Daily? Daze (and 1/2 damage) on a miss...even my CHAladin didn't care if she hit. The full damage is nice, and the -2 to hit cute, but I took the power b/c it's (a) ranged and (b) did I mention guaranteed Daze at Level 1?
This only applies to RPGA games. It does not apply to home games; people may play home games however they like.

....

In order to avoid this waste of time, always build an optimized character... or just don't play at all.

At first, I thought like many others have said above, that this was a troll post. Looking at the OP's other posts in other forums, though, I don't get this feeling. I think he honestly feels this way. Perhaps he had a bad experience at a table with a few un-optimized characters. If he is a troll, this seems to be his first attempt at trolling under this forum name.

Regardless, he is completely wrong.

It is the RPGA, not the COGA. If all we were doing was making optimized characters and rolling dice, we might as well be playing Warhammer or some other tactical minis game or just straight up playing a boardgame like Descent or Heroquest. To tell people that in a home game they can play how they want, but in an RPGA game they must meet your criteria is pure arrogance.

So players should pick the race, class, stats, etc. that best optimizes their character.

Complete bull. I'd use stronger language, were it allowed.

Should players build effective characters? Yes. This is a team game and you should be able to pull the weight of your role. Do you have to optimize every aspect? Not at all. Bring on the Dwarven Swordmage or Half-orc Bard. I personally have an Eladrin Barbarian. My characters are effective in their role and have support skills to add to the the group. If someone were to tell me that I should've written my character differently, just to optimize, I'll ignore them and keep playing. If someone were to make the OP's statement at a table I was at, I'd outright laugh in their face.

You should feel free to offer suggestions, but to throw out a blanket statement like "or just don't play at all" is arrogant, egotistical and incorrect. If anything, I'd feel the exact opposite to the OP's statement. If you aren't roleplaying, why are you here? But, unlike the OP, I recognize that there are other styles of play and that they are just as valid as mine.

Roleplaying does not increase your chances of winning, it does not grant you bonuses to rolls, and will not save your character from death.

Then your DM is not doing a very good job. Roleplaying is a part of the game and should have an effect on the outcome. Only if the entire table prefers not to roleplay should it have no effect at all.

In order to tailor to lots of players, RPGA games and what determines success must be very simple, structured, and mainstream. As a result, these adventures play out like a boardgame, where success is determined by numbers and not roleplaying.

If I wanted to play a boardgame, I'd play a boardgame. Success is determined by all of the elements of a game, not just the easily quantifiable ones. More importantly, as others have stated, success in RPGA is primarily determined by fun. If everyone else at your LFGS is having a good time, but you are not because they aren't as optimized as you, then you should probably find another place to game.

If you do not optimize your numbers, you increase your chances of failing encounters, which increases your chances of dying. I don't know about you, but I hate dying. When you die you lose potential experience, gold, items, and most importantly, time. It takes so many adventures and so much time to level your character, so increasing that amount of time is just frustrating.

I hate failing. To me, failing is not having fun. Dying is okay. Experience, gold, and items can all be gotten later. I'm only worried about the loss of time if it means I didn't have fun for the last four hours. I'd rather have fun with a party that amuses itself roleplaying and ends up dying (or failing per the OP) than a party that succeeds but has one player constantly complaining, insulting other people's builds, or trying to backseat run everyone else's characters. I've played enough LFR to have an 11th, 9th, 8th, 6th, 5th, 4th, and two 3rd level characters, as well as a smattering of single played level 1s at current time. In my experience so far, however, I've yet to encounter a table that failed (in the OP's sense) because people were roleplaying.

You also seem to complete ignore the Stormwind Fallacy. Just because someone's roleplaying does not mean they can't have a very well-built character and vice-versa. I strive to do both in every character I make. If I were to make a blanket statement, it would be "build an effective character with one or two interesting roleplay quirks or don't play at all." But some people don't like roleplay, so I wouldn't suggest forcing them to. Some people don't want to optimize, so they shouldn't be forced to either.

In order to avoid this waste of time, always build an optimized character... or just don't play at all.

No. Just plain no. The only blanket statement that should be made in the RPGA is "have fun or just don't play at all."
Huh? What's wrong with a low CHA STRaladin picking Radiant Delirium as a Lvl 1 Daily? Daze (and 1/2 damage) on a miss...even my CHAladin didn't care if she hit. The full damage is nice, and the -2 to hit cute, but I took the power b/c it's (a) ranged and (b) did I mention guaranteed Daze at Level 1?

Yes, fine.

As has been pointed out, it's hard to build a really useless character, and I'm not demanding any CharOp madness (I hate most of those builds). Just a 16-18 (post racial) in your primary, 14+ in your secondary and choice of feats and powers that you can use effectively (e.g. don't pick backstabber as a feat in you're a multiclass rogue and only get sneak attack once per encounter, or a Cha paladin power when you've got 18 Str and 12 Cha).

You've picked a power that you can indeed use effectively, because it's got a great 'miss' effect. No problem there at all.

It was just a general 'off the top of my head' example.
Oh great. Now I absolutely have to build the guy.

Stumpy McUseless - dwarf fighter. 12 str.

====== Created Using Wizards of the Coast D&D Character Builder ======
level 1
Dwarf, Fighter
Build: Battlerager Fighter
Fighter Talents: Battlerager Vigor
Background: Aglarond

FINAL ABILITY SCORES
Str 12, Con 18, Dex 10, Int 10, Wis 18, Cha 10.

STARTING ABILITY SCORES
Str 12, Con 16, Dex 10, Int 10, Wis 16, Cha 10.


AC: 10 Fort: 16 Reflex: 10 Will: 14
HP: 33 Surges: 13 Surge Value: 8

TRAINED SKILLS
Streetwise +5, Athletics +6, Perception +10

UNTRAINED SKILLS
Acrobatics, Arcana, Bluff, Diplomacy, Dungeoneering +6, Endurance +6, Heal +4, History, Insight +4, Intimidate, Nature +4, Religion, Stealth, Thievery

FEATS
Level 1: Devoted Challenge

POWERS
Fighter at-will 1: Brash Strike
Fighter at-will 1: Crushing Surge
Fighter encounter 1: Bell Ringer
Fighter daily 1: Knee Breaker

ITEMS
Maul, Scale Armor, Adventurer's Kit
====== Copy to Clipboard and Press the Import Button on the Summary Tab ======

OMG it's the Battlerager Jesus Dwarf he was made in his god's image, will be sent to an early grave, and his god can send him back to earth as a Revenant. HAHAHAHAHAHAHA
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