First, I have to try real hard to reign in my min/max, rules lawyer tendencies in the Denver game. As someone who spends (maybe too much) time reading the rules books and has a pretty good memory for this stuff I have to watch it. I don’t want to insult the DM by telling him he got the rule wrong, or announce it in the middle of a session. So I make a point of holding back during the game. And then usually the next day I will send a polite mail to him asking about things that I was curious about. Just to clarify if it is his ruling or a missed rule.
Given that, I want to point out what I think is a big success in newer games, that is the end of the idea of a ‘dump stat’. To explain I have to take you back in time. When I first got into AD&D it was a given that the stat which you could always throw that bad roll in was Charisma. Because, with the exception of Paladins or Bards (which were true oddballs anyway) no one had to have a good Charisma. So only serious ‘role players’ instead of the regular players threw points at Charisma. So there were a bunch of ugly, obnoxious adventurers running around back then. Because who cared if your Charisma was low when you had a Strength of 18?
If I had to point out the biggest difference now in these games is that the rules make sure that there is a least 1 or more essential skill linked to every attribute. And certain attributes make a very big difference even when you wouldn’t think so. And this is a case where Pathfinder has really made this apparent. When I made my character I did go old school, threw away Charisma. Fortunately I made a character where that is mostly okay. But he really stands out in a party with 2 Clerics, a Sorcerer and Paladin. Because all of those characters have really high Charisma scores, because it makes a big difference in what they can do. Sure they are all good at what they do, but they look good doing it.
I am going to have to teach the boys this the hard way as they all pretty much threw away Wisdom scores. But this has a real consequence when a third of the Saving throws, and Perception are based off that Wisdom. So I can really peck away at them if I want.
But what I am getting at is I like this trend. It forces players to either make well rounded characters, or accept that they have a fatal flaw that they have to work around. In the world of min/max forcing that well rounded but not great, or great with a flaw character construction makes the games interesting. And that is a good thing. Because Role playing, even in Fantasy settings, is not about just being Conan and muscling yourself through every scenario.