Fallacious Follies: Oberoni, Stormwind, and Fallacies OH MY!

clearstream

(He, Him)
Well, with the more traditional versions of Trav, you could simply argue that even using the word "build" there is questionable. The degree of steerage you can conduct with generating one of those characters is, to be charitable, rather limited. (This is in contrast with something like Cepheus Deluxe where it might be possible after a fashion, once you decide what function the character is going to play in the group).
I'd say in Traveller it amounts to whatever fiat the group agrees on over choice of which characters they go on to play. The rules offer slightly contradictory notions about that. In one place it says
it is possible for a player to generate a character with seemingly unsatisfactory values; nevertheless, each player should use his character as generated.

but immediately goes on to suggest that
Should a player consider his character to be so poor as to be beyond help, he should consider joining the accident prone Scout Corps, with a subconscious view to suicide

This idea of "so poor as to be beyond help" is a nod toward prioritising optimisation. I think a position that robustly upheld that the two are never incompatible would have ended the paragraph at the earlier sentence.
 

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clearstream

(He, Him)
That's part of my point - I mean, you can choose which skill chart to roll on, and whether to try for another term at the risk of aging - but what does "optimisation" look like? In my group's recent/current Traveller campaign, one of the PCs has Battle Dress and good physical stats, but is by no means the driving force behind events. Another PC has no skills but Cutlass-4 and Tactics-1, but because of the player has quite a bit of influence over how things unfold.

The idea that "optimisation" = combat = dominating the game only operates within an extremely narrow paradigm of (some) D&D-esque play.

EDIT: In our Prince Valiant game one of the knights has Brawn 3, Arms 2, Battle 1. The other two have Brawn 4, Arms 4, Battle 6. Which counts as optimised? The question is silly. Sir Morgath has Presence 4, Courtesie 2, Fellowship 3, Glamourie 2, Poetry/Song 1, and Lore 2. The other two have Presence 3 and Courtesie 2 and Fellowship 2 in one case, Courtesie 1, Fellowship 1 and Oratory 2 in the other.

The players choose their PCs' goals. When the PCs meet NPCs, the players choose whether to speak first or fight first.

Even playing RM back in the 90s, when our play was probably closer to (some sorts of) D&D than our Prince Valiant game is, we had PCs who were relatively weak in combat but skilled in social, illusion and infiltration. They did not exert any less influence on events than the warriors and the firemage.
I think one can validly deny that optimising has any meaning, but the SF was authored on the old WotC CharOp boards (before they closed their forum) and that does tie it to games where concrete choices made for characters have a palpable impact on play. (I wouldn't narrow those to just combat, often enough some of the most powerful abilities are non-combat. Mind control is an example, which can be used to get what PCs want while avoiding combat altogether.)

I am however mulling over examples and styles of play in very much the direction you outline, and asking similar questions. I've offered one take on what optimal means in such cases, above.
 

billd91

Not your screen monkey (he/him)
My point is that even if you assume other things, it was next to impossible to optimize toward it in Traveller, because you had too little control over output. It wasn't so much a question of the focus of the game--because I think there were plenty of Traveller games that had a heavy combat focus--but the lack of control over what kind of character you were going to get except in the lightest way. You couldn't force an effective combatant, but you couldn't really focus an effective technician. Best you could do was aim in the rough direction and hope it played out.

Essentially, I think Traveller is a bad example for a different reason than I think you're presuming. Its not impossible to optimize characters toward non-combat purposes, if the game has enough mechanical engagement in those purposes, and the system gives you enough control over how your character comes out.
I'm not sure it's as impossible to optimize as you suggest, but some of this depended on which edition you were playing. You could certainly make choices designed to improve your chances of having a starship by being a scout or merchant and staying in as long as you could. You could improve your chances of being combat capable by joining the army or marines. None of these were as foolproof as having full control over your character development choices, true, so it was a "softer" but still present form of optimization.
 

FrogReaver

As long as i get to be the frog
Even though I think "highly" and "extremely" are doing some real heavy lifting in your first sentence--I'd come back with "If that's what someone likes to play, why should they?"
In the general sense that’s a rather easy notion to dispel - there’s a whole category of characters someone shouldn’t play even if that’s what they like - ones that grief other players and/or the dm.

In the more specific case I find the psychology that pushes one to make optimized master tacticians to also suck a lot of the fun out of the game and that by letting that go the game becomes much more enjoyable. Maybe not 100% of people that only make optimized master tacticians have this psychology but it does seem prevalent enough and the benefits for them great enough that the aim should be to get them to consider changing that psychology instead of simply justifying its existence.

I mean, to be really blunt, this hobby is awfully full of people who want to tell other people what to play because they find what the other person plays tedious. Other than people playing characters that are actively disruptive, I'm extremely unsold that that's anyone's business but the person playing the character, and yes, that even applies to people who play some variation of the same character in every game (as long as the adapt it to the setting, genre and campaign at hand).
Psychologically I don’t think this is correct. People are irrational and often like things that are actually destructive to their own stated desires. It also completely elides the fact that people throughout their lives like new things - often more than some of the similar things they like.
 

FrogReaver

As long as i get to be the frog
I think one can validly deny that optimising has any meaning, but the SF was authored on the old WotC CharOp boards (before they closed their forum) and that does tie it to games where concrete choices made for characters have a palpable impact on play. (I wouldn't narrow those to just combat, often enough some of the most powerful abilities are non-combat. Mind control is an example, which can be used to get what PCs want while avoiding combat altogether.)

I am however mulling over examples and styles of play in very much the direction you outline, and asking similar questions. I've offered one take on what optimal means in such cases, above.
IMO - If a game offers character creation choices one can optimize character creation.
 

FrogReaver

As long as i get to be the frog
Then maybe don't play a squad based team combat game? You're driving at a "what is the goal of play?" question here. If the game has stakes and a victory condition that lives outside the expression of the players through their characters, the reason for playing badly should be a lack of experience, knowledge or skill. Otherwise you've got players who haven't actually signed up to play the same game.
I don’t think that principle actually holds. No one gets ‘yelled’ at in d&d for not making the super most optimized character - even the experienced players that definitely know what’s optimized and isn’t. IMO The game isn’t about victory within system constraints, rather it’s about victory within player constraints - be they builds chosen or character personality quirks.
There are any number of cooperative games that allow for various kinds of self expression but aren't particularly amenable to bad play, I don't see why role-playing should be exceptional. Consider the Arkham Horror card game, Spirit Island or even something like Aeon's End in a campaign mode. You're picking a character, making mechanical/build choices, perhaps driven primarily by aesthetics, you might even be trying a technique or build that you know isn't optimal from the position of deck construction given all the available options. You then still accept an obligation to try and win the game, and your choices in play are assumed to be driving to that end. Not doing so is a violation of the group agreement to play such a game in the first place.
if I may - what’s changed isn’t whether one is trying to win the game but what game one is playing.

Consider 1v1 basketball between friends where an obviously bad player is spotted 15 points. Is the person spotting them not trying to win the game? No! They are creating a new similar game that he tries to win. This could get even more related to gameplay than spotting points as well - ex: the better player can’t shoot 3’s or drive to your right or it’s a turnover. Etc. All those variations are still basketball but also not quite the same game.
 

payn

He'll flip ya...Flip ya for real...
I feel like if fluff is so divorced from crunch, the crunch isn't doing the work I want it to do.
Im not entirely sure what that means? My reference was to the idea that the character intentionally doesn't do what they are good at for role play reasons. That doesnt make a lot of sense to me, or I should say its not where I want to focus my role play. To me the mechanics are the engine that I like to keep under the hood. Too much focus on it, and im not enjoying everything else about the character.

For example, you may have a doctor PC in a game. Now mechanically, the doctor might be a wiz at healing people and conditions. To add some roleplay tension the player decides that the doctor wont treat a patient because they want to roleplay out a scene where the doctor is unable to help. That might be a compelling roleplay activity, but its one that doesn't feel organic. Like if you don't play a flawed character you are not role playing correctly. My instinct isnt to create these situations, its to look at the mechanics and wonder why they are not facilitating them? Sounds to me the engine needs tuning so the car runs smoothly and I can then crank the radio.
 

clearstream

(He, Him)
IMO - If a game offers character creation choices one can optimize character creation.
Well, I was thinking about the possibility that in some games optimisation has no meaning, and seeing if I could understand "non-contingent relationships don't obtain" in cases where optimisation does have meaning.

For instance, say this is true
EDIT: In our Prince Valiant game one of the knights has Brawn 3, Arms 2, Battle 1. The other two have Brawn 4, Arms 4, Battle 6. Which counts as optimised? The question is silly.
Seeing as the SF addresses putative conflict between optimising and RP, it cannot apply to Prince Valiant so long as there is no such thing as optimising in that game. It is an empty claim to say RP is not in conflict with optimising in cases where the latter doesn't exist. So I wanted to find cases where the SF would still matter.
 

clearstream

(He, Him)
Im not entirely sure what that means? My reference was to the idea that the character intentionally doesn't do what they are good at for role play reasons. That doesnt make a lot of sense to me, or I should say its not where I want to focus my role play. To me the mechanics are the engine that I like to keep under the hood. Too much focus on it, and im not enjoying everything else about the character.
Do you include some focus within the scope of not too much?

For example, you may have a doctor PC in a game. Now mechanically, the doctor might be a wiz at healing people and conditions. To add some roleplay tension the player decides that the doctor wont treat a patient because they want to roleplay out a scene where the doctor is unable to help. That might be a compelling roleplay activity, but its one that doesn't feel organic. Like if you don't play a flawed character you are not role playing correctly. My instinct isnt to create these situations, its to look at the mechanics and wonder why they are not facilitating them? Sounds to me the engine needs tuning so the car runs smoothly and I can then crank the radio.
Ought we to differentiate between an optimised character, and a character played optimally, do you think? I was thinking that an unoptimised doctor would be one who was not a wiz at healing people and conditions. The reason they then could not treat that patient would be down to some failing in their abilities.
 

On the stormwind fallacy. I do agree it is basically a valid point, you can optimize a character to fit an RP concept. And I actually was kind of a fan of some of the optimization in 3E (which the fallacy was a response to). What I will say though is when the rubber hit the road, people would often point to the fallacy while they were optimizing the hell out of a character and then using it to attack people who either had no interest in optimization or had no ability to optimize but preferred to focus on characterization (i.e. actually you have to optimize to truly role-play). My take from all of it is there is nothing wrong with optimization but in a system like 3E, when it is employed, it can create sharp divisions around play style, around a sense of fair play and balance, and it can impact peoples fun in both directions. In short, when it comes to optimization, particularly in 3E, people really need to either be on the same page or find a group that fits their style. I think a lot of gamers like RPing a character, they aren't as into the mechanics and math, and don't want those to be so central. If the GM allows unfettered optimization in a group where some people feel that way, there are going to be issues.
 

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