I have lately begun wondering how much of min/maxing comes from someone's desire to play more often than they actually do play...
I'm coming increasingly under the impression that, short of a game in session, some players take to reading rulebooks again and again, and finding little tidbits that are innocent enough on their own, but taken in the right combinations are interesting in their way, but also very game-bending. The min/maxing may not start as a desire to 'be the best' but start as a simple desire to do more with the game. Then the results of that get rewarded in "the beholder-dragon didn't kill me!" and it gets reinforced.
Of course, the saddest part of min/maxing (to me, anyway) is when you throw a variety of encounters on the table, some of which the min/maxed character cannot meaningfully contribute to at all, and the player is frustrated by that. It is a 'you made your bed, now lie in it" situation, but as ever, the whole point is to have fun, and make as much fun for each other as can be done...
Gnome Boy (a.k.a. "Jon") • DCC play-tester @ DDC 35, Feb 2011. • Beta DL 2111, 7:00 AM PT, 8 June 11.Playing RPGs since 1977
• Quasi-occasional member of the Legion of 8th-Level Fighters.—Here Be DCC Monsters—VOORAK, L, Hunter, S10, A12, Sm10, P6, I13, L13, AC 10, HP 3, Spear +0 1d8, Init 0; R 0, F 0, W -1, Holy water, Pelt, 3 iron spikes, 1d ration, 4-leaf clover (Find secret doors) (+1), Com +1
SARKLA, C, Gatherer, S9, A14, Sm14, P15, I14, L8, AC 11, HP 4, Knife +0 1d4, Init 1, R 1, F 1, W 1, Chest, Basket of veggies, 2d ration, lg sack, waterskin, torch, Seventh son (Spell checks), Com +1
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TELVA, N, Herbalist, S13, A6, Sm9, P6, I12, L10, AC 9, HP 2, Club +1 1d4+1, Init -1, R -1, F 0, W -1, Chain 10', Herbs- 1 lb., 50' rope, 2d ration, torch, Speed of cobra (Init), Com