Posted by: allhailthoon | April 13, 2010

Form and Function: Party Optimization vs. Character Concept

To some, building an adventuring party is an art. These are the people that put time and effort into thinking about party dynamic, efficiency, effectiveness, and roles within the group. No doubt these noble souls spend hours poring over lists of spells and feats in order to figure out where and how they can do the greatest good.

I am not one of these people.

Personally, I like to find a gimmick and beat it into the ground. History, personality, logo, color scheme, and whatever class, prestige class, or items fit the concept best. These are the things I like to play with, regardless of whether or not it’s the most effective or what the party most needs.

On more than one occasion I’ve butted heads, albeit civilly, with friends over the issue of whether I should do what seems neat and have a character that technically functions at sub-max capacity, or do what’s best for the group. I would say that I give in about half the time. In the long run, I think it comes down to the structure of the game and the nature of the group.

If the King sends out a call for a powerful warrior, a master thief, and a wizard, it’s probably not going to fly when I bust out a giff paladin with a celestial hippo mount and the feat Blessed by Tem-Et-Nu (which would allow me to rebuke hippos). But on the other hand, if we’re going on the basis that a party is a group of friends that just happen to go on fabulous adventures together (my favorite kind), I see no reason why we can’t command hippos until the hippos come home.

I don’t know about everyone else, but personally I didn’t choose my friends based on how well they could hold up in a fight.



  1. You chose them by how well they look next to your hippos.

  2. But the Hippo character is optimized too – it’s just optimizing everything hippo-related. Which may not be quite what the party needs.

    Also, since I’m an optimizer at heart, here’s your Giff Paladin:

    Lord Hippoton of Hippotus Prime
    LG Male Giff
    4 Monstrous HD/Paladin 8/Scion of Tem-et-Nu 5/3 LA
    Alternative class features: house-ruled hippo to replace dire lion special mount (same HD, similar CR), planar paladin (swap Cure Disease for celestial mount)
    Str: 28
    Dex: 10
    Con: 20
    Int: 8
    Wis: 8
    Cha: 14
    Feats: Blessed by Tem-et-Nu, Power Attack, Improved Bull Rush, Shock Trooper, Leap Attack, Extra Smiting, Powerful Smite

  3. I want to see which of the Seven Mounting Heavens the Celestial Hippos come from. More importantly, I want to see the reactions of people discovering that they have to spend the rest of eternity there.

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