Within the Dungeons & Dragons circles the conversation about optimizing, min-maxing, and power gaming is always in a perpetual spiral. I’m here to lay out the case that a focus on mechanical advantages does not benefit play or the party. A focus on D&D character optimization can reduce focus on an interesting character, most certainly leads to grabbing more than your fair share of spotlight, and piles work onto your Dungeon Master’s lap. This argument is not intended to stop you from playing your way. If this is fun for you, I’m not coming to your table and knocking your minis off the battlemat.
If you’re a frequent reader, you know I like to jump onto whatever topic the Nerdarchists are talking about any given week and throw in my 2 cp. Recently, Nerdarchists Dave and Ted are covered the gith chapter from Mordenkainen’s Tome of Foes and I simply gave a soft sigh. The gith are a combination of just about everything I find uninteresting in fifth edition Dungeons & Dragons. Living in a plane of existence beyond the material, psionics, and being a monstrous race. Let’s dive into why I dislike D&D monstrous races and ways that disdain has made my game better. Well, at least I think it’s better.
The longer I spend wading through the waters of Dungeons & Dragons on social media, the more I find being a Dungeon Master who makes preparations is a little more rare than I initially thought. Everyone has their own means of having fun, but I can’t roleplay comfortably without ample notes, spreadsheets, and clear understanding of a rules system. Lots of psychology to unpack there… but now is not that time! Now I must explore my commitment to D&D as a lifestyle game. I spend sometimes 8 hours writing for a session. Underprepared D&D players who come to the table over the course of months and still don’t know basic functions of their character, commonly used core rules, or which die is 8-sided really miscast my cantrips.
I heard some rumblings here and there for awhile, but a recent video by Dawnforgedcast has forced me to sit down and contemplate on the weird class that is the fifth edition Dungeons & Dragons warlock. In the video he presents the issue that the reliance many warlocks have on eldritch blast is repetitive and even boring, purposing a fix action to raise other warlock cantrips a little higher on the effectiveness scale, to give a bit more incentive to use them. After my viewing of the video, sitting in contemplation and paying special attention to warlocks at my table, I believe I’ve come to a conclusion. Eldritch blast did nothing wrong. Hear me out, maybe these one-hit wonders are working just as intended.