But I wanna have two hammers!

There is a Games Workshop mini, for the Warhammer Fantasy Battles game, that I think is called, “Warrior Priest” or something similar.

It’s this guy. (I did not paint this one… I’m linking the image from Cool Mini or Not. The poster’s handle is Wombat85.)

Warrior Priest from Cool Mini or Not

He has two hammers. He’s awesome. I want to make this guy as a character and paint my mini and use it in game. But this will never happen… and here’s why:

It isn’t practical. I’m talking about using him in Pathfinder, but simply put, it isn’t workable for me. In the first place, the game system really doesn’t support making a two-weapon fighting priest (or paladin, really). Now, I can build this character, and he’d be, “okay.” But when I start to think of it I realize that there are about a dozen other ways I could build a character that are more useful to the party. And that’s really the crux of it. I don’t want to be so sub par that I’m a drag on the party for my own “fun” of playing a concept character.

And as I’ve thought about this more, it’s made me realize two things.

1. I like numbers. I may have mentioned this before, but I actually enjoy a system with lots of character building options. The problem is, with enough character building options, you reach a point where it seems inevitable that some of the those paths become significantly better choices than others. More importantly though, some choices are marginalized. And part of the reason for this stems from the work of the forces of balance… if a choice is viable for a build it will be less effective in, then it runs the risk of being way-too-good in a build it actually works with. And this then becomes an issue for me — How to create a game that involves a lot of mechanical options for characters without constantly struggling with balance-math?

2. Despite my desire to be a story-gamer, in play, I do actually enjoy building “useful” characters. As I look back at my characters over the years, I find that I have often taken the track of starting with the numbers — “okay I need to build a cleric” — and working backward to “now I have the good numbers worked out, let’s build a fun story/personality.” And this doesn’t just happen in D&D/PF, but also in Shadowrun, etc. Basically, any system that involves accounting in the building process. But you take out the “BUILD” portion, and I find that I don’t struggle with this dynamic. And thus my characters are usually more fun for me.

Just thinking out loud here. I’m starting to struggle with gaming again. It may just be a little depression creeping in around the edges from my frustration in job searching… but also, a little gloomy about gaming too.

But that enough gloom for one post. What’s your experience? Am I alone in this or does everyone do it?

Thanks for reading.


10 responses

  1. It’s interesting, because we’ve certainly moved to lower detail, more story-oriented systems, but at the same time I feel the pull of details. I mean I can make up the two-hammer wielding cleric- but if that character, at root, is mechanically the same as other characters, I’m not sure if that is satisfying. But I’ve gotten so used to faster, no rules checking games that I’m not sure I could swing back to more crunch. I get what you’re saying about the desire to get the character right and to use the rules and options. (And about the frustration of job hunting).

  2. I think, one of my continuing frustrations is that I don’t really have a core group of gamers who are interested in rules-light. I have a pretty crunchy bunch around me. They’re all good people and fun gamers, but I don’t know that my core-group would be satisfied with Barbarians of Lemuria the way I am…

    And I love the people I play with — and I enjoy Pathfinder a lot, and things like Shadowrun are awesome. So I’m happy to be playing, but sometimes I find myself pining for a more freeing experience.

    I dunno. Maybe I’m crazy.

  3. So now my mind is stuck trying to make a song called I wanna have two hammers, sung to the tune of I wanna know what love is.

    1. See, now that is awesome. And now my mind is stuck doing the same thing…

  4. I sort of pride myself on playing bad numbers characters and still finding ways to be useful. I once played an expert in a 3.5 game who couldn’t fight, but really got connected to the shopkeepers in any town. I tried a dex heavy Pally because I liked the idea of a swashbuckling religious fanatic. In my current PF game I’m playing an illusionist sorcerer. I find that no matter how crazy you build a dude, there’s always a way to contribute.

    As for gaming gloominess, we’ve all been there. No better way out then shifting gears a little while. Play a few short runs of Dungeon Crawl, or if your group can handle it, Paranoia.


  5. Being less-than-optimal is not the same thing as being useless. The practical difference when all is said and done is likely to be something along the lines of 10-20%. If your group’s margin of error is less than that then a streak of bad luck is probably a bigger threat. Pick the option that works best and go with it.

  6. It seems like most of us gamers, given a character build system, look for optimized builds. Just a natural response given we’re playing a game. I play a striker in a 4e game that regularly gets outdone in the damage department. It could be a sub-optimal build, it could be my tactical choices. But the party goes on, and the game continues.

    The point is, I think you have to trust the rest of the team. They’ve got your back, as you have theirs. When dice are involved you’ll have epic successes and epic failures. I think how you play at the table, and with your team, is way more important than your optimized build.

    Go for the twin hammers. Yeah, you’ll probably be easier to hit, take more damage, and be in danger of dying more often. But your teammates will bail you out. And the day your second hammer strike kills the BBEG, your teammates will thank you for it.

  7. Thanks for the comments. I appreciate the thoughts. Mostly though, the issue is not being “so bad that the party hates me.” I game with better people than that. And the problem is not to be totally optimized. It’s more a block for me, knowing that I’m making a character just to make it. I feel like I shouldn’t unleash my thought experiments on the group just for the sake of doing it…

    And I’m not sure I’d end up being happy with the character… because I’ll end up wanting to be effective as a cleric. And then I’ll be less effective because I’m drastically skewing my abilities in such a way that I’m not really good at anything. So I feel as if I’ll grow frustrated with the character because I like the character at the table to be a solid fusion of Story and Stat. Without that, I lose some of the experience. Oh well.

    Thanks again.

  8. Very Nice.

    Thanks, that was a lot of effort. I appreciate the build and I’ll keep him around for use sometime (who doesn’t need NPCs, right?)

    I like what you did there sir, that was classy.

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