Character optimisation is not normally my thing. Is the following character optimisation question appropriate for main-site? Are my goals specific enough? If not, how could I improve it?

One of my player's PCs is a level 6 multiclassed Revised Ranger - Beast Conclave 5 / Warlock Fiendish Patron 1. They are a Variant Human with the Shield Master feat.

They started off as a strength based, primarily melee fighting Ranger with (above averagely strong for their party) stats (rolled 4d6 drop 1, + Racials + level 4 ASI) as follows:
18 STR, 16 DEX, 14 CON, 10 INT, 16 WIS, 13 CHA

They then multiclassed, taking a level of Warlock for RP reasons at the last level up (level 6) (their character had literally made a pact wth a fiend in the preceding game narrative). This was their choice, not mine.

Some more relevant details:

  • As a melee Ranger they have the Dueling fighting style and 17 AC (studded leather +3 Dex, +2 shield).
  • Their poor Charisma (+1) lends itself to Warlock spell picks that aren't reliant on a sucessful spell attack roll or enemies saving against a DC. They can of course simply use their Warlock slots to cast Ranger spells with their (rather better) Wisdom.
  • As a Revised Ranger - Beast Conclave they don't have access to Extra Attack (though their best companion deals a decent amount of damage). Consequently Green Flame Blade has become their go to melee attack. Unfortunately this has poor synergy with Shield Bash which requires the Attack action to be taken (as opposed to the Cast a Spell action).
  • The lower hit dice of a Warlock is not an issue. They have rolled max health at every level up, so at level six they have 70 health (all these rolls have been made in my presence - I would say that they're pretty lucky, if they didn't roll atrociously the rest of the time).

At first glance there seems little synergy between the Wisdom based Spellcasting of the Ranger and the Charisma based Pact Magic of the Warlock. Even before multi-classing, as a Strength based melee focussed Ranger many would already consider their build to have been sub-optimal.

My table don't play an especially min-maxy game but I don't want to let this player fall massively behind the curve compared to the single-classed characters if I can help it. While the character is entirely theirs, and they are free to level up however they wish in my game, in practice they've delegated the mechanical management of their character outside of sessions to me, the DM. That includes most of the process of levelling up - though I always run it passed them for their approval (many of my other players are more engaged, and enjoy levelling their own characters, this player does not). With all that in mind I'm not certain how best to advise them to level up in the future.

Should they cut their losses on this single level dip into Warlock now and continue investing heavily in Ranger from this point? Or, is there greater rewards to be had by taking more Warlock levela, with invocations and Thirsting Blade just a couple of levels away?

Parameters: my goal here is to optimise their development for damage dealing (ideally still as a melee based combatant). Should the next levels they take be I Warlock, or should I revert to Revised Ranger? This campaign is likely to run until around level 12-15. Multi-classing further into a third class is not option. Complexity of play is not an issue, they are a competent player and have a good level of system familiarity, they're just a little lazy.

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    \$\begingroup\$ I think something worth mentioning is whether the Ranger-Lock's current stats are well above the party's (they are certainly above the average), which may make a "sub-optimal" level dip not as bad as it seems \$\endgroup\$ – Medix2 Nov 29 '19 at 17:11
  • \$\begingroup\$ Are you wanting to present damage-dealing optimizations for single and multiclassed versions of their character for them to pick? Or is the goal to present the single highest damage dealing option to them and say "let's go with this"? \$\endgroup\$ – NautArch Nov 29 '19 at 18:01
  • \$\begingroup\$ @NautArch They've already multi-classed, that's a done deal at this point. I'm looking for damage optimisation based on whether they should dive any further into warlock or stick with just a one level dip. \$\endgroup\$ – Tiggerous Nov 29 '19 at 18:24
  • \$\begingroup\$ Gotcha. Can you update your question to more clearly reflect all this discussion? \$\endgroup\$ – NautArch Nov 29 '19 at 18:25
  • \$\begingroup\$ @NautArch Do those changes cover it? I feel like the optimisation question is getting a little muddled by all the discussion of to what extent I am responsible for this character when that's not really anything to do with my question. Maybe I should just pose the question entirely as if the character was my own? \$\endgroup\$ – Tiggerous Nov 29 '19 at 21:49

This should be stackable with enough parameters

If you can clearly communicate what the player's goals are with their character, developing an option for optimized damage based on those parameters should be doable.

I would definitely highlight that simpler is better for this character as part of the process and make that one of the requirements.

But we know that they are currently level 6, you can provide their current stats and build decisions, and provide what they like and want to do more of (including how they approach combat generally), I think we can come up with optimized damage dealing builds.

However, as part of the parameters, you're going to have to clarify what you mean by 'damage dealing'. Is it continuous non-resource damage? Nova Damage? Something else?

You did talk about they seem to lean more towards the RP aspect. You should quantify and explain that if you can so that the proposed builds can also support that aspect.

It may also help to understand the party as a whole and what folks have done to do a comparison of builds.

  • \$\begingroup\$ Ah, I should have been clearer. It is actually my decision, not theirs, to make. I'll clarify my question when I get a moment later. \$\endgroup\$ – Tiggerous Nov 29 '19 at 16:54
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    \$\begingroup\$ @Tiggerous I think asking if a DM should require multiclassing on a player would definitely be a stackable question (and maybe start with that.) I dunno, it seems odd that this is your decision to make and not the player's. \$\endgroup\$ – NautArch Nov 29 '19 at 16:57
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    \$\begingroup\$ It's nothing to do with what I require. I think you have the wrong end of the stick. He's just a casual player that just prefers to delegate building his character to me while focusing on the social side and RP aspects. \$\endgroup\$ – Tiggerous Nov 29 '19 at 17:48
  • \$\begingroup\$ My group contains players of mixed levels of engagement, some who do lots of prep outside of sessions and others who prefer to delegate to me and just turn up and play. I feel more pressure to get this right because it's no my character, but the multiclassing originally was their decision. I wanted to encourage that choice because it showed them beginning to take more of an interest in the mechanical aspects of the game. \$\endgroup\$ – Tiggerous Nov 29 '19 at 17:55
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    \$\begingroup\$ @Tiggerous Ah, that makes some sense! Sorry about that :) So basically what you're looking for is something to present to your player in terms of options and not a single specific direction? My hunch is that's not very stackable because you're looking for more than one answer (I guess you could submit each build direction separately and then propose), but it feels like this would be better suited to chat or a forum. And if they're nt super into optimization to begin with, i'm not sure why there's need to present optimized options. \$\endgroup\$ – NautArch Nov 29 '19 at 17:56
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    \$\begingroup\$ For players like that, if they didn't 'build' their character, how are they doing in managing the mechanics at the table when it's their turn? \$\endgroup\$ – NautArch Nov 29 '19 at 17:56
  • \$\begingroup\$ Given this, I think something to look out for is that an optimized character may have quite a lot of mechanics thrown in to get there. Depending on how your player would handle this, not overwhelming them, (having the optimization see use), is an important consideration \$\endgroup\$ – Medix2 Nov 29 '19 at 18:07

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