Non-Standard Builds: A role-playing primer

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Non-Standard Builds: A role-playing primer

Post  Gawain_VIII on Tue May 31, 2016 11:09 pm

Very often, we, the players, fall into the trap of min-maxing. Creating the perfect character to be the absolute best at whatever that character does. In the end, by pure chance... or the fact that we're all playing the same game with the same rules... your perfectly sculpted ranger is an exact carbon-copy of my perfectly sculpted ranger. Why? Because we both know exactly what abilities and skills are needed to make our rangers the best there is. But sometimes (I'd argue "most of the time") a less-than perfect character with a huge deficit is more fun, and a greater challenge, to play. Here are a couple of mechanically-gimped, but perfectly suited for extensive role-play, character types:

The Weakling Soldier
Young man comes from a long line of soldiers. He grew up hearing tales of war and battle from his father, grandfather, great-grandfather, and always dreamt of continuing in that tradition. However, his over-protective mother, having lost two sons already to the army and wars, never permitted him to join in the many character-building exercises of so many youths--like bullying the neighborhood kids, getting into fights, or even competing in games of courage with his friends. Because of this, our young would-be hero never developed into a virile, strapping man. He only has a Strength score of 12. Undaunted, he defies his mother's objections and enlists to follow his dreams and make his father proud.

Not being very strong, our young soldier is given the dubious honor of becoming the company clerk--preparing forms, making inventory of supplies, and ensuring everyone gets paid on time.... BUT, he's a soldier, a fighter, a warrior: trained in combat and martial prowess.

To make up for his deficiencies, this adventurer learns to use his wits (Wis 16) and training (skills) to survive after he leaves the army and begins his adventuring career. Having learned quite a bit about how things work behind-the-scenes (max points in Appraise, Discipline, Lore, and Persuade), he becomes a valuable asset to any adventuring party, easily able to convey the latest gossip and even convince the powers-that-be into doing whatever his personal plots desire.

The Street Magician, aka The Petty Dabbler
Rough neighborhood, he grew up in. Gangs, thugs, and abusive city guardsmen around every corner. He had to fight just to make it through the day... every day. He's strong (Str 18), but lean (Con 12/Dex 14). He had to be just to get to where he is today--rock bottom. He's tired of fighting. He dreams of the day when he can just sit back and read fairy tales and history books. He's not very smart (INT 11), but damned if he doesn't love a good book. Eventually, he had to learn to make a living... maybe he picked up a few tricks from that gypsy caravan that came through town last year. He can dazzle passers-by with a pretty light show, shoot fire into the air from his fingertips, and even make a killing by bilking commoners out of their hard-earned money with the invisible magic markings on the back of a deck of cards.

He will never be able to comprehend the deeper mysteries of magic (INT 13 limits him to 1st level spells, regardless of level), but his guile and strength give him the advantage of surprise. Of course, he gets caught cheating at cards every now and then--but he always gets the drop on his mark because they never expect him to pull out that nice shiny longsword and slash through them with expert control (Martial Weapon Proficiency feat). The Agents are never able to find him (Hide & Move Silent skill), and merchants can't compete with his under-priced, black-market goods (max Appraise skill) that he peddles off to anyone with coin to spare--especially when they don't even need it (Persuade skill).
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Gawain_VIII
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Age : 36
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Registration date : 2016-05-31

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Character Name: Bel Inconnu
Race: Human
Overall Level: 4

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Re: Non-Standard Builds: A role-playing primer

Post  GM_ODA on Wed Jun 01, 2016 5:22 am

Friend Gawain VIII,
I'm with you. Min-maxing makes for dull games. Playing a character that is a challenge is much more fun. While you can stack points any way you please here (within the rules) it may be worth a try to make a PC less than optimal just to see if you can help such a PC succeed in the challenges of life!

Be well. Game on!
GM_ODA

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Race: Dwarf
Overall Level: 11

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Re: Non-Standard Builds: A role-playing primer

Post  fredseeker on Wed Jun 01, 2016 12:45 pm

Sub-optimal builds are the bones of a good story. I do not care for builds that are so extremely honed for one single purpose that they are essentially broken to do anything else, and break most things they are put to. Whoever heard of a fighter that can blast away the toughest foes with a few swings, but cannot even sidestep or absorb a hit or two? Or a walking doorstop of a "Tank" warrior that is about as effective as a defanged rubber T-rex in a fight, just something to plug the corridor? Being a one-trick pony might be fine for some arcane casters or lazy archers, but everyone else needs to be a little more well-rounded and that makes them a little more believable than just something made to fill a required slot perfectly. Sure, each class/race etc might have their forte, but they should not be so ab-used in design to where the module builder has to make things that are very impossible for all others just to keep it challenging to the one (which in turn forces all others to have to conform to to making meta-builds to participate also). NWN may not be DnD, but it should not be allowed to be played as if it were WoW either. This is why I support this server, the ppl behind it want you to take time and craft a wonderful, memorable, fantasy adventure.

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