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.
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.
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.
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.