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Messages - PlzBreakMyCampaign

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The PBMC Metacompendium / Mindsight
« on: March 22, 2018, 02:45:56 PM »
Telepathy Block [BoED109] 5th level, 80' "blocks all telepathic communication". Some like to pretend there are other uses for the base telepathy ability. There aren't. Thus this little gem balances one of the most powerful augmentations of an already useful ability. A DM is free to interpret this spell as per the below:

So a creature can't "detect and pinpoint beings that are not mindless within range of its telepathy. This works much like blindsense" [LoM126] which can also be blocked. Darkstalker provides no "bubble" or "heads up" that a creature has it, either and therefore Telepathic Block shouldn't.

The PBMC Metacompendium / Power Stone nonRAW abuse
« on: March 22, 2018, 02:37:45 PM »
If someone says, "So if you have a bunch of power stones with psionic powers in them, you can take a round of physical contact, make your psicraft check, then manifest it next round. You can do this all day long, as long as you are willing to take one round to "understand" the power before you use it," tell them they forgot to add the some important words to the end of that last sentence: "from the stone, flushing it." Otherwise any old wilder could just run around with 1 powerstone of each power and "manifest them normally," ignoring the entire intent of spells known (which Erudite doesn't have to worry about much anyways). This also clears up your later confusion. See CP105 if you need proof.

The PBMC Metacompendium / Psychofeedback
« on: March 22, 2018, 02:36:15 PM »
The stacking rules probably prevent psychofeedback from boosting other scores twice. This takes the raw power down from 600% of what the designers expected to, at maximum 100%, probably less depending on your stats. Specifically:

Otherwise a mind mage can use the boosted scores from a previous manifesting to then boost a second stat. Then wait for your bound naberius [ToM] to heal you up to full and swap both boosts BACK. Keep doing it back and forth until capped by your ML. You don't even need to change form into a high physical stat creature first. It works right out of the box!

You end up with all 3 physical scores being boosted by your ML (which is over 100 due to circle magic + psiotheurge feats + shards) ... every day for the full day (thanks for persistent power).

The PBMC Metacompendium / MetaConcert
« on: March 22, 2018, 02:34:48 PM »
When the shared entity manifests a power, all participants are manifesting the power in proportion to their PP given. A participant isn't a participant if they don't volunteer any power points.

Therefore this doesn't help Erudites get around unique powers per day (they are still manifesting the same power everyone else in the group is when the concert 'plays').

The PBMC Metacompendium / Magic Mantle
« on: March 22, 2018, 02:34:11 PM »
This only links analogues between the systems, even in full transparancy. It does not allow metapowers that do not exist as metamagic to be applied to powers, nor does it allow free augmentations of spells casted as spells, even if the analogous power does have possible augmentations.

The PBMC Metacompendium / Plane Shifting to Layers
« on: March 22, 2018, 02:32:55 PM »

"The plane shift spell also deposits the spellcaster on the first layer of the plane." [DMGp151 left middle]

It does NOT put you on further layers without specific, expensive material components. You can't teleport to them either because they are not related by distance: "These layers are effectively separate planes." You have to adventure through them.

The real reason for ignorance about this is that the D&D cosmology is a mess (See A Full Cosmology). Even FCI says of the largest plane: "plane shift [...] allows travel from plane to plane or layer to layer. Without the proper material component (a forket metal rod aligned to a specific layer) all plane shifts to the Abyss deposit the caster on a a random location on the Plain of Infinite Portals" [FCIp109]. And of course, the Plain of Infinite Portals is the first layer of the Abyss. When it says 'layer to layer', it means from one plane's first layer to another plane's first layer. It does not mean from the first layer of the same plane to the second layer of the same plane. That is not possible via plane shift (see above rule quote). Indeed FCI clarifies later that if you do want to travel between the layers: "the following planar pathways offer travel between the layers" but plane shift isn't mentioned.

There are costs listed in Dungeon Magazine for specific planes if your DM is nice enough to make them available for you. But if you aren't flat out given them, there is no guarantee you can buy them and many are too expensive even to make with Wish. It looks like you'll be adventuring to layers after all.

The PBMC Metacompendium / Temperature Bands
« on: March 22, 2018, 02:32:30 PM »
Here's the data dump of me extrapolating expanded temperatures and their environmental effects as close to RAW as possible:

260 in sunlight EE unearthly   (3d10/round) flash boil water
230      EE severe   (1d6l+1d4n/r) fast boil
200+ burning   EE extreme   3d10/r -> 1d6lethal,1d4non/10min slow boil
180+ unearthly   EE severe   1d6leth, 1d4non /round -> 1d4non /10min
140+ extreme   EE hot      1d6leth, 1d4non /10min-> 1d6nonlethal per hour

               HOT,   warm   cool   cold   frozen  very COLD
140 to -50 endure elements handles (140to100, 100to70, 70to40, 40to10, 10to-20,-20to-50)

-80 to   ee cold      (0d6cold, 1d4nonlethal with save / hour)
-110   ee severe   (0d6cold, 1d6nonlethal with save / 10min)
-140   ee extreme   (1d6cold, 1d4nonlethal with save / 10min)
-170   ee unearthly   (1d6cold, 1d4nonlethal / min)
-200   c3      (1d6cold, 2d4nonlethal / min)
-230   s3      (1d6cold, 2d6nonlethal / round)
-260   e3      (2d6cold, 2d6nonlethal / round)
-290   u3   air starting to liquify (12d6cold, 12d6nonlethal / round)

After this point things get nasty with the heatflow rate and wondering if PCs boil / decompress.

Control Temperature (Frostburn): CL40
-19 or more -> 265 (3d10/round) flash boil water
-21 or less -> -295 (12d6cold, 12d6nonlethal / round) air starting to liquify

The PBMC Metacompendium / Guidelines for DMPCs
« on: March 22, 2018, 02:30:57 PM »
0) It's hard to DM. It is. Controlling a PC makes it harder. DMs often do this because its still fun. However if they aren't grown-ups who value the fun of their PCs more, they probably are bad players in addition to DMs. All the 'I want to kill my party member!' or 'How can I stop the rogue from stealing from me?' threads are basically the same thing; one PC doesn't care about another PC. This is bad, including and especially when the DM does it. But it doesn't mean that all PCs are this way. It just means there are some bad PCs. Likewise, we are going to assume the DM is not one of these 'problem players' when playing a DMPC. If he is, you've got a big problem because he can't be told that he should just play his DMPC and let someone else DM; his DMPC turned real PC will still be a problem that needs addressed. I am also assuming said problem player is not somehow a better gamer and person by having the extra responsibilities of being DM. The only real option is to have said bad player/DM not play; The DMPC abuse is really just a symptom of other problems. That said, there are still guidelines to make sure every DM knows how to DMPC even better than they otherwise would.

1) DMPC's are treated, made, and act exactly like a PC except for the below.
When I say exactly, I mean exactly. This includes embarrassing things like letting your PC make possibly lethal mistakes, and rolling for the DM, which is you.

2) DMPC's must optimize ... differently.
That's right. DMPC's must optimize. They just don't optimize like other players. This optimization isn't so the DMPC can be awesome. This is so the players are can be awesome. Though, in its role, the DMPC will be awesome at it. Let's say you are building a Rogue for a classic, very source-limited 5 man band. Rogues often take the role of DPS. Sneak attack is fun like that. But your role is not to have fun like a player. Your role is for your players to have fun. KS'ing all the monsters makes your players feel cheated. So no DPS rogue, unless specifically asked for by players (perhaps a player get's kicks out of a over-optimized grapple-pin build but wants your to finish off the grapplee).
Instead your goal for said above rogue is to fill in the holes as a skill monkey. That way players don't worry about traps or having awful rolls as a party-face. Your DMPC can take ranks in the skills the players don't want, rather than getting stuck at low levels trying to untie the damsel in distress from the dragon's lair. Such use rope rolls are made where everyone can see. This way they participate in the tension and are glad you made the check.

3) DMPC's never steal the spotlight.
A DMPC is not a player in search of glory. He is a shadow for the players to help support them. Only the worst of DMs, after building their character to make the PCs useless, actually go through with the deal and dominate comabt ... or show how powerful they are ... or give exposition that wasn't asked for ... or go off on their own story ... or cause inter-party conflict ... or generally do anything but be the perfect 'yes-man' player that would never break any kind of gentleman's agreement. Indeed if a DMPC is actively getting screwed over by another player, this is not a problem like it would be for banal player vs player tension. The DM has other things to worry about. If his DMPC get's screwed over by another PC, then that's still mission accomplished: the PCs are engaging the game, having fun, and suceeding on what they want to do.

4) A DMPC never guides the story or uses metagaming information, even in ways players might not notice.
Even the best intentioned DMs might be tempted to make their DMPC vote (all parties are democracies right?) on the 'expected' or 'right' solution in order to help steer parties towards an expected story outcome. Clever players, or just those that wish to suck up to the DM, might then change their votes because they know the DMPC always choses the 'right' answer. Instead DMPCs motivations should be simple and seemingly one dimensional so that PCs know what the DMPC will chose without asking. This is of course independent of the story line. It is perfectly exceptable to vote against the party, so long as the DMPC says, 'Well, I lost the vote,' and that is the end of the DMPC's resistance to the PC's and therefore the party's plan.

5) DMPCs have the worst of being a player, as well as the worst of being an NPC.
This one might not seem intuitive. Let's say as a (good) DM, but you don't use the "Players roll all the dice" variant. So you run through and record combat rolls (initiative, two rounds monster's attacks, etc) ahead of time in addition to your map-making and campaign research duties. After all, you don't want to slow down combat with all this monster rolling. Keep the action on your PCs. Wait, you're not going to slow down combat with your DMPC, are you? That's right, you have some extra pre-rolls to do.
DMPC's don't have any information than any other NPC does. And yet, they have even lower tolerance for metagaming (ever watch a player search or move through a dungeon slowly when the DM asks what the highest PC's spot total is?). If you are unable to separate character knowledge from game knowledge as a player, then it will be impossible to do so as a DMPC without being called out on it by the other PCs.
Remove all 'breaks' that you might give a character when RAW goes against RAI and would ordinarily rule in favor of helping out a PC. Players aren't always fair in assessing what they see as favoritism, so it is suggested that you use a lower point buy, the elite array (like an NPC), or other methods to show that the DMPC is plain old worse off than other PCs, especially if you intend to play "smart". Of course, this is a balancing act. In general, take queues from your players concerning the DMPC, just as players take queues from the campaign from the DM. If your players are all tier 4 or 5, don't play a tier 1 or 2. If they all put ranks in hide and move silently, don't ruin their stealth. Just because you are building your own character with its own motivations, doesn't mean you can actually be a straight up ignorable NPC. Even players that realize how suspiciously similar in power level (damage output, HP, speed, etc) a DMPC is to the PCs, won't have a problem with it. Sometimes mediocrity is good.

The PBMC Metacompendium / Pounce doesn't Stack
« on: March 22, 2018, 02:29:24 PM »
Pounce confusion: "When you charge, you can make a full attack in the same round" is understood to mean you can INSTEAD, not you can IN ADDITION. It certainly doesn't say in addition. Gaining the ability more that once just gives you the ability to full attack ... which you could already do. You don't multipounce without blowing additional resources.

The PBMC Metacompendium / LA Buyoff
« on: March 22, 2018, 02:28:54 PM »
LA Buyoff (via restoration, or just very exact attention to newly set XP values) can allow for infinite acquired LA+1 templates for a cheap 3k xp.

The stacking rules should be invoked to prevent LA buyoff from applying more than once to the same LA tier (LA 1 + LA2,1 is okay but LA1 + LA2,1 + LA1 is not).

The PBMC Metacompendium / Spells that force Templates
« on: March 22, 2018, 02:28:07 PM »
Still give LA values. For instance, Nar Fiendbind [LEoF32] states, "The newly created half-fiend also gains a +4 level adjustment." This is the default behavior, unless another spell says otherwise (and none do).

The PBMC Metacompendium / Weapon Sizing & Handedness
« on: March 22, 2018, 02:27:31 PM »
Technically, 3.5 didn't fully overright the 3.0 rules about light -> one-handed -> two-handed weapons. So there is still no tiny creatures wielding gargantuan weapons against helpless targets. In general, I'm uninterested in fixing 3.5 vs 3.0 debates, especially in areas where they don't create large scale problems.

The PBMC Metacompendium / Monsters get better penalties
« on: March 22, 2018, 02:25:48 PM »

(DMGp173) score of what would be a 4-8 for int or 1-5 for everything else might be boosted. We consider this optional.

The PBMC Metacompendium / Lower Half Tiers Free 1 LA
« on: March 22, 2018, 02:24:59 PM »
If a player makes a choice for a monster that the DM considers suboptimal, such as choosing to play an ettin wizard rather than an ettan barbarian, the DM may lower the level adjustment by 1 to represent the monster's reduced effectiveness.

Like always they assume low level (so we will assume only 1 PC level). Again they don't understand tiers so we can ignore the "wizard < barbarian" fluff everywhere. What basically matters is that we are given explicit green-light to lower LA by a specific amount (one) if the monster has reduced effectiveness because of class. How less effective? "Suboptimal." I'm not going to say this means anything strictly less than the best combination (if such a thing exists). Instead I think we can agree on Tier 6-4 being the suboptimal ones in comparison to the higher half of 3-1.

The PBMC Metacompendium / Leveling Order
« on: March 22, 2018, 02:23:16 PM »
By RAW, it is inflexible.

Do you want to make your 6th level PrC boosted with your 6th level feat? Sucks for you, by RAW. Most DMs allow leveling order to be whatever the player wants. I'm not going into that level of detail in fixing RAW. Just a small warning.

There's a reason why many groups house-rule this to 'whatever you want' because its just extra rules for no reason. Yes its slightly more powerful, but its less of a headache. Still this holds no candle to the metamagic 'in whatever order you want' interpretation

The PBMC Metacompendium / Retraining Abuse
« on: March 22, 2018, 02:20:49 PM »
Psy Ref is more balanced because it has a cost. Also it has the added bonus of not training base class levels for PrC ones.

The PBMC Metacompendium / Methods of Gaining XP
« on: March 22, 2018, 02:19:34 PM »
Aside from metagame (bringing pizza) or roleplay XP, it isn't just for:
1) Combat: disable or slay all who oppose with 2) Traps included. Of course, keeping track of damage dealt and taken is silly. The BFC and healbot are participating too.

Even the 5th wheel Bard who's off capturing 3) The Objective via dimension door but isn't otherwise in combat is being useful if sent by the party, even if he never rolled initiative because the fight was over before he got back.

It's also for 4) Complete Exploration. Adventurers sometimes miss the mark. If the party travels to Forbidden Swamp, but the objective was moved elsewhere by the bandits from the Cave of Dangerousness but the bandits left to serve a vampire and the visited Vampire's Tomb that night was empty because he was taking his new spawn out feeding ... they have a detailed map and ransacked where they will be going. That's XP, not just WBL and combat advantage.

5) Successful skill checks give XP too. The higher over the DC, the more the XP. The skill monkey won't feel like he's covering for that lazy cleric anymore.

6) Of course, sometimes those rolls lead to player agency in the way of avoiding encounters completely. Why fight that vampire coven when he's done you a nice serive of getting rid of those pesky bandits. They are all under his control anyway, he could order them to give you the objective without any danger. Of course, you'll probably have to bluff and intimidate him into thinking that your a representative from a rival bandit who heard about a wave paladins and clerics rumored to be on the way. Sure the vampire isn't dead but he'll leave and either spend all his defenses worried about turn attempts or consider bandits are more of a threat elsewhere.

DMs expect 1, sometimes add in 2, and will even be fair with 3 when reminded. Only good DMs do 4 and 5. Bad DMs will actually get mad about 6 rather than reward it with XP = 3 + 5.

The PBMC Metacompendium / Legal Sources
« on: March 22, 2018, 02:17:57 PM »
Whats Legal by categories of decreasing acceptability:

Accessible for free

Web Enhancements (I count atleast 43 seperate, useful WotC pages)
Generic 3.5 Supplements


Note: Several of the books from series. If the series isnt listed consecutively, it is marked.
Generic Unupdated 3.0 Supplements

Adventure Specific

FaT    (living greyhawk)
Campaign Specific


Dragon Magazine issues 269-308 (3.0), 309-360 (3.5)
Dungeon Magazine issues 90-154?
Licensed and Campaign Specific

Diablo II Diablerie
Diablo II To Hell and Back
KoD (simple adventure)
SoSs (simple adventure)

Not Legal:
Lapsed Liscenses and Campaign Specific

Kingdoms of Kalamar books
Ravenloft Campaign Setting books
Never was legal (aka 3rd party)

Hyperconscious (actually good)
Book of Feats (example of laughable balance)
Homebrew (aka everything else. Even I made a base and prestige class. GitP has a few good ones)

Arbitrary Campaign Coloring:

Rokugan (spelling?)

My acronyms are WotCs (Magic of Faerun vs Monsters of Faerun) but longer for ease of looking up:

AEG   Arms and Equipment Guide
AEoS    Anauroch: The Empire of Shade
AoM   Age of Mortals
BoBS   Bastion of Broken Souls
BoED    Book of Exalted Deeds
BoK Bestiary of Kyrnn
BotFK    Barrow of the Forgotten King
BoVD    Book of Vile Darkness
CAd    Complete Adventurer
CAr    Complete Arcane
CC    Complete Champion
CD    Complete Divine
Ci    Cityscape
CM    Complete Mage
CTotW    Cormyr: The Tearing of the Weave
CoP   City of Peril
CoR    Champions of Ruin
CoSW   City of Splendors: Waterdeep
CotSQ    City of the Spider Queen
CoV    Champions of Valor
CP    Complete Psionic
CS    Complete Scoundrel
CW    Complete Warrior
DCS    Dragonlance Campaign Setting
DD    Deities and Demigods
DH    Deep Horizon
DM    Dragon Magic
DMC   Dragon Magazine Compendium
DMG   Dungeon Masters Guide v.3.5
DMG2    Dungeon Masters Guide II
DoE    Dragons of Eberron
DoF    Dragons of Faer�n
DoK    Dragons of Krynn
DotF    Defenders of the Faith: A Guidebook to Clerics, Paladins
DotU    Drow of the Underdark
Dr    Draconomicon
Dra    Dragonmarked
Du    Dungeonscape
EA    Enemies and Allies
ECS    Eberron Campaign Setting
EE    Elder Evils
ELH   Epic Level Handbook
EoE    Exemplars of Evil
EofLQ    Eyes of the Lich Queen
EPH    Expanded Psionics Handbook
EtCR   Expedition to Castle Ravenloft
EttDP    Expedition to the Demonweb Pits
EttRoG    Expedition to the Ruins of Greyhawk
EtU    Expedition to Undermountain
FCI    Fiendish Codex I: Hordes of the Abyss
FCII   Fiendish Codex II: Tyrants of the Nine Hells
FF    Fiend Folio
FLDG   Fantastic Locations: Dragondown Grotto
FLFoR    Fantastic Locations: Fields of Ruin
FLFotD    Fantastic Locations: Fane of the Drow
FLHP    Fantastic Locations: Hellspike Prison
FLtFR    Fantastic Locations: The Frostfell Rift
FN   Five Nations
FoE    Faiths of Eberron
FoF   Forge of Fury, The
FotY    Fortress of the Yuan-Ti
FoW    Forge of War, The
FP    Faiths & Pantheons
Fr    Frostburn
FRCS    Forgotten Realms Campaign Setting
Gh    Ghostwalk
GotEC    Grasp of the Emerald Claw
HoB    Heroes of Battle
HoH    Heroes of Horror
HoNS    Heart of Nightfang Spire
HOotS    Holy Orders Of The Stars
KoD    Key Of Destiny
KOoA   Knightly Orders Of Ansalon.pdf
LEoF    Lost Empires of Faer�n
LM    Libris Mortis: The Book of the Dead
LoD    Lords of Darkness
LoM    Lords of Madness
LotIF    Lord of the Iron Fortress
LotT    Legends Of The Twins.pdf
MH    Miniatures Handbook
MIC    Magic Item Compendium
MM   Monster Manual v.3.5
MM2    Monster Manual II
MM3    Monster Manual III
MM4    Monster Manual IV
MM5    Monster Manual V
MoE    Magic of Eberron
MoF   Magic of Faer�n
MoI    Magic of Incarnum
Mon    Monster Compendium: Monsters of Faer�n
MotM   Mysteries of the Moonsea
MotP    Manual of the Planes
MotW    Masters of the Wild: Guidebook to Barbarians, Druids, Rangers
OA    Oriental Adventures
PGtE    Players Guide to Eberron
PGtF    Players Guide to Faer�n
PH2    Players Handbook II
PHB   Players Handbook v.3.5
PlH    Planar Handbook
PoF    Power of Faer�n
RC    Rules Compendium
RHoD    Red Hand of Doom
RoA    Races of Ansalon
RoD    Races of Destiny
RoE    Races of Eberron
RoF   Races of Faer�n
RoS    Races of Stone
RotD    Races of the Dragon
RotW    Races of the Wild
RttToEE   Return to the Temple of Elemental Evil
Sa    Sandstorm
SaS    Song and Silence: A Guidebook to Bards and Rogues
SBG   Stronghold Builders Guidebook
SC    Sunless Citadel, The
SF    Sword and Fist: A Guidebook to Monks and Fighters
SGoS    The Shattered Gates of Slaughtergarde
Sh    Sharn: City of Towers
ShS    Shining South
SiD    Speaker in Dreams, The
SiS    Sinister Spire, The
SK    Serpent Kingdoms
SM    Silver Marches
SoG    Sons of Gruumsh
SoS    Secrets of Sarlona
SoSs    Spectre Of Sorrows.pdf
SotHH   Scourge of the Howling Horde
SotLW   Shadows of the Last War
SoX    Secrets of Xendrik
SS    Savage Species
SSL    Shadowdale: The Scouring of the Land
Sto    Stormwrack
StS    Standing Stone, The
TB    Tome and Blood: A Guidebook to Wizards and Sorcerers
ToB    Tome of Battle: The Book of Nine Swords
ToHS   Towers Of High Sorcery.pdf
ToM    Tome of Magic
TT   The Twilight Tomb
UA    Unearthed Arcana
UE   Unapproachable East
Und    Underdark
VotGD    Voyage of the Golden Dragon
WoL   Weapons of Legacy
WotL   War Of The Lance.pdf
WotVB    Whispers of the Vampires Blade

Note: I have excluded books like Diablo II Campaign Setting that have no unique crunch unless they also had large adventures in them. Full listing here:

Book of Challenges: Dungeon Rooms, Puzzles, and Traps
Barrow of the Forgotten King
City of the Spider Queen
Cormyr: The Tearing of the Weave
D&D Gazetteer
Deep Horizon
Enemies and Allies (good for laughing at default characters though)
Explorers Handbook
Fantastic Locations: Dragondown Grotto
Fantastic Locations: Fane of the Drow
Fantastic Locations: Fields of Ruin
Fantastic Locations: The Frostfell Rift
Forge of Fury, The
Grasp of the Emerald Claw
Hero Builders Guidebook
Heart of Nightfang Spire
Lord of the Iron Fortress
Mysteries of the Moonsea
Power of Faer�n
Red Hand of Doom
Stronghold Builders Guidebook
Speaker in Dreams, The
Sons of Gruumsh
Shadows of the Last War
Standing Stone, The
Shadowdale: The Scouring of the Land
The Shattered Gates of Slaughtergarde
Sunless Citadel, The
The Twilight Tomb
Voyage of the Golden Dragon
Whispers of the Vampires Blade
Epic Insights Compilation
Fright at Tristor
Map Folio I
Living Greyhawk Gazetteer

The PBMC Metacompendium / NonDeathmatch Encounters
« on: March 22, 2018, 02:08:30 PM »
Are you sick of your players thinking they are in arena-like deathmatches for every encounter? Then try these encounters!

O = Offensive
N = Neutral
D = Defensive

N) 3 team FFA (balance a hefty tug of war)
N) treasure hunt versus

O) Disable The Device (stop continual effect)

D) Prevent invasion (enemies kidnap NPC)
O) Prevent execution (enemies have NPC)
O)   Escape with the NPC
D) Protect Caravan (escort)

O) Steal the item (reinforcements in waves)
D) Capture the Criminal (He's getting away!)

D) Buying Time for escape (hold the line)
O) tail & stop the ritual (skill checks)

All encounters in enemy territory should have lure traps.

The PBMC Metacompendium / Optimizer Levels
« on: March 22, 2018, 02:06:44 PM »
I offer the following scale. I pray that you may find it useful, and that groups may use it to decide on a shared understanding of level of play before they begin.

0 - Willful Bonehead: "I'm a ROLE-player!" Misses the point of the Stormwind Fallacy, and will ignore optimal design choices entirely. Often stubbornly against the very idea of optimization. Frequently uses terms like "munchkin" and "min/maxer" to describe those who do optimize, and "role-player, not ROLL-player" about him/herself. Sees the idea of playing a character with a story somehow antithetical to systemological considerations about function (e.g., "My Wizard took WP Focus because he got a dagger from his dad that symbolizes his clan and heritage, and he uses it whenever possible - even though he's not the best melee fighter!"). These guys have trouble understanding that a Ninja isn't a Ninja because he SAYS he is a Ninja (or his class is CALLED Ninja), but because he can hide in shadows, turn invisible, strike at pressure points, climb walls like a spider, disguise himself, etc.

1 - Greenhorn: "Wait - what do you mean I take an Aoo? What's that?" Has a sub-optimal or incomplete understanding of the rules, but is open to the idea of optimization (though he or she may find more optimal builds somewhat intimidating). Doesn't know what works together well - but will generally attempt to make choices to improve his or her character. Be nice to them - we all were there once, and they're willing to learn - remember, Greenhorns are the optimizers of the future!

2 - Novice: "Aww . . . he's cute! Like a puppy!" Has either gained knowledge from the boards or figured out some decent choices on his or her own. This is the level at which some basic understanding of what works and doesn't work is put into practice; low-level casters take spells like Glitterdust and Color Spray, melee types ignore choices like WP Focus in favor of Power Attack and classes granting pounce, etc. The level at which most informed gamers play.

3 - Practical Optimizer: "Slick" This is the level at which optimizers enjoy respect without starting to seem too threatening. Players at this level have gone beyond "basic" strategy to consider larger-picture character design goals. A Practical Optimizer tends to plan his or her character's development from the starting level of play through level 20, taking into consideration feat, maneuver, class, and ability choices to attempt to optimize effectiveness at most levels. Has an extensive knowledge of not only basic rules, but of supplemental rules (Incarnum, Martial Adepts, Psionics, etc.), and tends to be consulted by other players for advice on "tricks" that can allow for cross-book (and even cross-setting) synergies that prove extra effective.

4 - Creative Optimizer: "Mild Cheddar" Sharp, tangy, and a lovely complement to any sandwich - providing you have the palate! A Creative Optimizer's builds become even more elaborate by using "tricks" - bags full of explosive runes, necromantic exploding rat-bags, dust eggs from Oriental Adventures, Font of Inspiration for tons of standard actions on a Factotum, Frozen Wildshape for Cryo-Hydra form on Druids, etc. Tricks at this level are unquestionably legal, but often intimidate inexperienced DMs, and can prove difficult to balance without a party of similarly savvy players - the level at which some people start to get annoyed with you, and their unspoken rules prejudices come to the fore (in other words, because what you do is CREATIVE, not the standard level 3 Druid, they start saying no, but providing no logical reason why not). This is the level at which "new" or "innovative" combinations of feats, spells, classes, and abilities start to emerge.

5 - Theoretical Optimizer: "Limburger" This is when the stink of cheese gets overpowering (but many prefer strong flavors!). At this level of optimization, the flimsy fallacy of "balance" in d20 falls completely apart. Optimizers operating at this level ferret out the semantic and systemological faults of the rulebooks and exploit them, doing the equivalent of a post-modernist deconstruction of the game. Builds at this level take advantage of infinite loops, untyped bonuses (such as aid another), or unclear wording, and often result in new "world records." This kind of optimization is pure mental exercise, and is almost never suited for any kind of practical play.

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