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Dealing with overpowered PCs


Advice

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Andoran

My campaign has not started yet but it looks as if one character will be absurdly more powerful than the others.

So against my better judgment I have allowed a player to create a Half-Dragon and Half-Fiend character for a campaign I am running. The character will be immune to fire, poison, sleep and have devil resists, as well as wings, telepathy, breath weapon 3/day and all the nastiness of being a rogue (sneak attack, large skill list). He has min-maxed his dexterity and intelligence and I fear that he will be too overpowered. Unfortunately I have agreed to the concept of his character and since its a close friend I dont want to irritate him by going back on my word.

What can I realistically do to curb his power besides a permanent level adjustment?


willhob wrote:

My campaign has not started yet but it looks as if one character will be absurdly more powerful than the others.

So against my better judgment I have allowed a player to create a Half-Dragon and Half-Fiend character for a campaign I am running. The character will be immune to fire, poison, sleep and have devil resists, as well as wings, telepathy, breath weapon 3/day and all the nastiness of being a rogue (sneak attack, large skill list). He has min-maxed his dexterity and intelligence and I fear that he will be too overpowered. Unfortunately I have agreed to the concept of his character and since its a close friend I dont want to irritate him by going back on my word.

What can I realistically do to curb his power besides a permanent level adjustment?

Well one point is that if he's taking a standard race his breath weapon has 0 dice and is non-issue. It only applies to racial hit dice now. That said it's the least of your concerns. His stats are going to be astronomical and it's not a matter of if but how overpowered.

Nothing aside from level adjustment is really going to keep him in line with others unless they get similar treatment.I honestly think you should get rid of at least one simply because combining the two with no penalty is ridiculous. Figure is he wants the power or the heritage aspects of the character. If it's flavor that can easily be done with sorcerer/eldritch heritage but requires an investment on their part. But raw power wise it's too much unless you massively bump up the others either through templates or something else.

Shadow Lodge

5 people marked this as a favorite.

If you're too afraid to put your foot down as a GM now, it's only going to get a lot worse later on.

He might not like it, but if you're afraid of him being overpowered, he should understand... assuming he's a mature player, of course.


1 person marked this as a favorite.

Wow. That is pretty... wow.

I think the big question is, what are the other players bringing to the table? If they all have something equally absurd, then it might even out. It will be a weird campaign, though, and you will probably have to do quite a bit of adjusting to figure out the right power level. Characters with weird abilities and super high stats are often glass cannons, and the line between "too easy" and "TPK" is razor thin.

If your friend is the only one with something crazy, I think you'll have to bite the bullet and tell him "Hey, I screwed up. You can't play that." The massive stat adjustments and piles of special abilities are just too much to balance against people taking normal options. The other players are likely to feel overshadowed, and will think you are playing favorites with your close friend.

You can try to adjust by making him start at a substantially lower level, but that will probably lead to other problems. Level Adjustment is a concept that was abandoned for a reason, after all. His stats will keep him strong in some ways, but his lack of class abilities, hit dice, and other level-based things is going to make him too weak in others. Seriously, not a recipe for stable or happy play.


Ensure the campaign is urban and requires lots of NPC interaction and discussion, a circus freak character will do great!... not. :p

Andoran

The template I gave him was a custom creation as per this. I am planning on starting him 3 levels lower than the PCs and making it so he levels according to the old ECL system from 3.5 (in other words, he never catches up to their level)

Half-Dragon (+2 LA)

+2d12 hit die
+4 natural armor bonus
Immune to sleep, paralysis
Immunity to element of Dragon type picked
Dark vision 60 ft
Fly
Breathe weapon (3/day) 1d6 damage per level
+4 to Two stats your choice, +2 to rest

Half-Devil (+1 LA)

+1d10 hit die
See in Darkness (su)
Telepathy (ex)
Cold Resist 5, Electric Resist 5
Weapons are considered Lawful, Evil

As for the urban campaign idea, that is out because my campaign setting is on a series of abandoned islands infested primarily with Demons, Undead and other nasties. He is planning on making a Rogue with Rapid Shot, Many shot, Focused Shot and other ranged feats with a repeating heavy crossbow heh


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I would just say "my bad" and tell him to create a level appropriate character.

If you are determined to let this thing fly (pun intended) then you're going to have to cheese up the rest of the party too, and then good luck figuring out appropriately challenging encounters for them.

Just say no.


Man he must be big if he is a dragon that is also a devil. Unless he is quarter devil, quarter dragon, half human which I assume he wants to be, then he just has the same stats as a regular human.... HINT HINT.

Andoran

Well the rest of the party has a min-maxed Zen Archer, a Tiefling Duelist with a minor artifact and a cleric that can chain cast Fireball inside his comfy +3 Full Plate and shield. So there is already some major cheese going on

The monsters I have put together for the first few encounters are far and above the normal manual monsters, one is a CR11 statue made into a fast zombie. Guess time will tell if he is too overpowered heh


2 people marked this as a favorite.
willhob wrote:
Well the rest of the party has a min-maxed Zen Archer, a Tiefling Duelist with a minor artifact and a cleric that can chain cast Fireball inside his comfy +3 Full Plate and shield. So there is already some major cheese going on

Well then, nothing to see here. Move along.

Andoran

Theoretically I can just throw difficult encounters at them and advance the monsters, right?


seriously.....


willhob wrote:
Well the rest of the party has a min-maxed Zen Archer, a Tiefling Duelist with a minor artifact and a cleric that can chain cast Fireball inside his comfy +3 Full Plate and shield. So there is already some major cheese going on

So in fact he fits right in...

/endthread?

Qadira

im just going to go out on a limb here i may be completely off base and if i am just let me know. i am guessing you are kinda new to gming. but have played before so you feel you have a rough understanding of monsters crs. im also guessing that in previous campaigns you have played you felt as though you didnt have access to enough fun toys so you dont want to limit your players. HOWEVER this is just a horrible idea. stick to core play style. adding templates is just going to be hard and blending 3.5 and paizo to this extent will cause lots of problems.

Cheliax

1 person marked this as a favorite.

Throw them into the Tomb of Horrors?


willhob wrote:
Theoretically I can just throw difficult encounters at them and advance the monsters, right?

Yeah but that gets hard to judge. Say if you throw in encounters that are a match for the über characters it would mean all the regular characters are in danger of being wiped.

In order to make it fair, figure out what CR adjustment the very power powerful characters get and have the regular characters advance in levels to match.


2 people marked this as a favorite.

First he is an outsider for purposes that affect outsiders and he is an dragon for purposes that affect dragons. Second your campaign has already a story focused upon demon infested islands. These two factors mean this is a manageable problem, and presents a myriad of opportunities.

Many people end up forgetting that story can sometimes save them and you don't have to use house rules to implement. Given the little bit of information you've given, here's a few suggestions to get you thinking of what I mean.

- Bane Weapons: He's a Outsider (native) and if other native outsiders exist on the isle, either rival elements (perhaps the undead/other nasties) or fallen adventurers who came before possessed such weapons. Are you handing these items out to the party? Sure, except if...
- Rangers: ... the bane is actually in the form of a Ranger's favored enemy. It is not unrealistic to think that a small group of hunters/survivors upon these islands know how to kill demons. Also some of the undead/nasties might possess these class levels. This also doesn't compare to the backstory elements such as...
- Parentage: Who sired him? Why did they sire him? Is he some carnal mistake, a plan that is a key to the final plot of the adventure, or heir to a legacy of incredible evil? This is the one given it's more story than rules your player might rise up with a pitchfork against you, but at the same time if you make him feel important enough he might just applaud you. In other words USE PARENTAGE CAREFULLY!
- Flight: He can fly, true, but ask yourself if the party can. He might get himself into situations he can't handle alone. Remind him that he needs the party as much as they need their devilish-draco-cannon.
- He's a monster: So, do you have interactions with normals? The humans, halflings, gnomes, elves, etc...? They won't trust the party with him near. Make sure you get details of what he looks like, the more horrific the better. He has wings, so that shouldn't be a problem.
- Even to monsters he's a monster: If your nasties/undead have a problem with demons, guess who will incur their wrath?

So, there ya have it. Some quick ideas. It might seem like you're targeting your player, and if you use all of them you'll probably be right and he'll call you on it, but at the same time you have the story on your side. If you give excellent reasoning behind it (and a player will accept nothing short of excellent...) then you shouldn't have a problem. At least a rational one.

Oh, one last note. If he is the player who kills the baddie in one or two turns very noticeably, then launch multiple baddies. This gives the other players a chance to feel awesome too, and gives your power gamer a chance to do what he does best.

Shadow Lodge

2 people marked this as a favorite.

Why on earth would you do this to yourself?


If you must do this, the character must have daddy issues.
And mommy issues......

He has to have everyone over for thanksgiving dinner, and he looses if anybody in the family fights.

Game over man!


With the "LA" and racial HDs he's actually lower class level than his teammates and therefore weaker. I don't see an issue.


Hey Will, I would consider the immune fire. Some times some abilites sound good but the reality is the don't work well. Immune any element is one of these.

Immune fire(insert element) means this character can bu in the center of the sun and not take any damage. Submerged in fire not take any damge etc. I would also put Vulnerably to the opposing element.

I would also limit fly to a speed as well as a manueverability.

Cheliax

Agreed with Red-Assassin.

Make him fly 30 ft. (clumsy) for now, and give him fire resistance 5, increasing as he gains levels. When he gets to level 8, make it 10, etc.


Having high powered pc's rarely works out. I had a GM have the party start with a no penalty gestalt and all stats were 3d6+6. He figured since were more powerful we could handle tougher encounters......wrong 15hp is still 15hp even if you can cast magic missile and cure light wounds. We TPK'd, a lot.


My advice to you would be to drop those racial HD from the templates but keep him the 3 levels behind. The downside of templates is that you have less HD overall but make up for it in other ways.

Red-Assassin wrote:
Immune fire(insert element) means this character can bu in the center of the sun and not take any damage.

I had a character that was immune to fire once, but that didnt save him after he got wished in to the middle of the sun :( gravity > fire.

Shadow Lodge

wait... you're letting a pc with a half demon template in the party with a LG pally?

am i the only one who sees how wrong this is?

my advice to you since you seem like you have very powerful encounters in mind, tone down your encounters from the start then gradually increase the encounters based on what you feel the group can handle.
on quite a few ocasions i have had to adjust encounter mid fight to give my players a chance. im not to prideful to admit that i make mistakes, so i correct them when i need to.

basically what im saying is that you can let your players have nothing but CRB races and have them still do well in there adventures.

Andoran

Half-devil, the character is NE and will quickly come to the conclusion that if he is to survive he must cooperate with the Paladin. Same idea for the the Paladin, LE has to work with Evil sometimes in order to destroy a much greater evil. The group I am running seems a bit bored with "by the book" so I have attempted to create an off-the-wall campaign with custom traps, souped up undead and letting people generally play what they want.

I told the Paladin he can be Lawful Neutral if he still upholds the Paladin code, he seems to be toying with the idea of playing an OCD perfectionist Paladin that simply regards evil as unsightly and a threat to his personal need for order and control. Having a group of hippie NG humans going around to save the world gets a bit stale after awhile in my opinion. In any case, I am only concerned that I will have to resort to cheese of my own to properly challenge this party. Is there a way to avoid that?

Andoran

naive_wolf_joshua wrote:
Parentage:

His back story mentioned that he is the illegitimate son of a devil directly tied to Asmodeus himself. Can anyone say Hellknight with levels in Ranger, favored enemy dragon. +3 Seeking, Repeating crossbow with Greater Dragon Bane? Hell doesn't like scandals of this magnitude!

Shadow Lodge

its a hard question to answer for you. you by your own admission basically said " i made TPK encounters" so then you gave them access to things , imo, players should not have access to to make up for the design of the encounters, then you said that you gave a player a homebrew LA 3 template to make him super powerful.

you put your self in a major bind if im understanding your posts so far. you will have to "cheese" your encounters to prevent the LA3 2x template dm feiat character the ability to "island walk" through all of your encounters.

what you could do if you still wanted them to have powerful characters, is get rid of that LA 3 template and allow all of the players to toss on a LA1 template instead. then give every npc you make the advanced template and fiendish or devil templates. that should balance the encounter enough to not make you p[ull your hair out making the encounters work.


willhob wrote:

Half-devil, the character is NE and will quickly come to the conclusion that if he is to survive he must cooperate with the Paladin. Same idea for the the Paladin, LE has to work with Evil sometimes in order to destroy a much greater evil. The group I am running seems a bit bored with "by the book" so I have attempted to create an off-the-wall campaign with custom traps, souped up undead and letting people generally play what they want.

I told the Paladin he can be Lawful Neutral if he still upholds the Paladin code, he seems to be toying with the idea of playing an OCD perfectionist Paladin that simply regards evil as unsightly and a threat to his personal need for order and control. Having a group of hippie NG humans going around to save the world gets a bit stale after awhile in my opinion. In any case, I am only concerned that I will have to resort to cheese of my own to properly challenge this party. Is there a way to avoid that?

While i am all for the "lets give PCs nice toys to play with that can make them feel nice and special", then you should keep it in line with what the rest of the party can and what the rules say.

Basically you have created an environment where the book is nothing more than a rough guideline, and while you probably can challange them with regular monsters (just let them meet the terasque), it will almost certainly result in a TPK. If you want to challange them without killing them, then you should use just as much homebrew on monsters, as you do on the players. give them a blessing from what ever evil god (could give max hp +X to saves, hit and damage, wierd resistances and so on), but you only have your self to blame for throwing out the book.

My advice would be to tell the party that they can be all of this (or most of it) but within the rules. Require the half devil to be a tiefling instead, and you could get the same fluff story. (btw if he is half dragon and half devil then he doesnt have a race, he should merely be an X demon with half dragon template or dragon with half demon template, thats by the book anyway). Also a general thing to note, you will find it a lot easier to challange and have fun with a party that doesnt just break the rules, so i would simply tell my party to repick something better or do it relatively in the rules.

I do think however that stuff like LG paladins only is boring, my world always has paladins of all alignments, but small stuff like that isnt really gamebreaking.

Shadow Lodge

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Kill them.


if you allowed that, it was a clear moment of insanity and you should be able to take it back.
If that is really not possible, the only thing I would suggest is give the other players equal powerful helps, like 100 point buy or something like that.

Prepare for a campaign that is poor, nasty, brutish, and short, like Hobbes might have put it. You all deserve it for either allowing such a munchkin or playing such a munchkin or not revolting against the GM who favors his good friends.

Seriously, a good friend should understand that the GM has to be fair, and help more than the others to keep the game fun.


this thread is so much of a wasteb of time...

Qadira

Wasum wrote:
this thread is so much of a wasteb of time...

Yup. "I let someone do something that is really bad, what should I do? I know, I'll defend that decision and pretend to give the dude LAs that matter."

This PC will be too powerful. Stat boosts, immunities, special abilities....It is too powerful. Period. X the PC or your game is going to suffer badly.


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In the immortal words of Scorpious: "Kill them all John! Then we'll go out for Margarita shooters!"


Pathfinder Modules Subscriber

Sack the whole thing and make them all play awakened rabbits.

Cheliax

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Give them all Leadership and allow them free reign in designing cohorts for themselves with a 15 point-by. Then in the first adventure have all of the main characters be dominated and say "Okay, you guys are playing your cohorts now. You had better run for it, your former masters look pretty dangerous right now!"


Pathfinder Adventure Path, Roleplaying Game Subscriber

Had character like this is game I was in a the GM applied a level adjust of 3 on him. He was a glass cannon. He could do insane amounts of damage but would be knocked down quick. It didn't work well at all. He was mostly useless because he was always on his back.

What the GM ended up doing was giving the player an out. He was recruited by wizard and we ended up creating a new game where all made half dragon characters. Then we continued on with the Campaign and played the Half Dragon one every 3rd or 4th gaming session.

Andoran

You're entering into a whole weird area here.

Pathfinder is balanced around stuff in the 15-25 point buy range. Anything beyond that and the system begins to fray at the edges.

If you guys want to play super crazy powerful characters who all know kung fu, go for Exalted or something like that. Half-Dragon/Half-Devil sounds like the type of character you see in anything-goes campaign, which will likely be short-lived. I had some friends of mine in high school who once ran a homegame with stats on classes and weapons similar to the Katana=ultimate weapon troll you see every once in a while. Stuff like "If you miss with your weapon, you still hit them with the wind from the blow, dealing 2d10+40 points of damage."

Needless to say, it didn't last very long. I'd recommend doing something a little more normal unless you're prepared to do a LOT of work keeping the system from coming apart at the seams.


Pathfinder Adventure Path, Roleplaying Game Subscriber

SKR has a rant on his personal site about 'immunities'. I read it and modified them in my game.

Andoran

Maybe I am being optimistic, but if the entire party is more powerful than a typical party I can just boost the monsters by giving them higher hit die, damage reduction and so forth. If one player is more powerful I can balance that out by changing the starting gold for the other players or having the quest giver npc give them powerful boons.

Maybe the campaign will come apart at the seams, but I guess if that happens I can always start a different one heh


blahpers wrote:
Sack the whole thing and make them all play awakened rabbits.

Then we could live off of the land George.


Bwang wrote:
SKR has a rant on his personal site about 'immunities'. I read it and modified them in my game.

Could I get a link to that?

Shadow Lodge

Pathfinder Battles Case Subscriber; Pathfinder Roleplaying Game Subscriber

Link.


Sure they wouldn't be happier playing this?


Will, I wish you luck in your endeavor. But be prepared for a very swingy game with serious impact to the group's survivability from just a few very bad or very good rolls. Your group has ramped up the power and now you will have to respond. But how well have you kept the rest of the game in balance with the damage these demigods will be doing?

It might work, it might even be fun, but your margin for error is likely to be pretty slim...

Good luck.


Ahhh the beauty of it all. Nothing like an adventure along these lines to make everyone realize how fun the regular game really is.


Overpowered PCs wouldn't be so bad if the overpowering just gave them a level or two. I feel like the problem is power skewing. No one ever gets 10 HP, +1 AC / Strike / Damage by power gaming - its always +5 AC and nothing or +20 damage and nothing.

I feel for you. I let the gunslinger in my game have an advanced firearm, all things being equal, and I really regret it.

When I run games, for PF or other systems, where there is a big power disparity between the players, I usually make the game a thinking / mystery / problem solving game. It doesn't help batman to have superman along if batman is isolated by the bad guy when the fight happens.

It doesn't save the day if superman fights off the alien spaceship if batman isn't able to shutdown the evil alien computer that took over Lex Corp. See what I'm saying?

If you are intent on running for wacky powered super characters, maybe you should think about running the game a little differently than the usual parade of APL +1 encounters.


As I've told others with this problem: "Does he need to eat? Does he need to sleep? Can he fall in love?" If so, then you can put the hooks in him.

The first thing I would also tell this player, is that a half-dragon, half-tiefling is going to be a pariah in just about any civilized place. A normal populace would burn him on sight, so he's stuck in the less-civilized regions of the world.

I agree with naive-wolf-Joshua above: he doesn't exist in a vacuum, and it's likely his parentage is going to be a huge influence on his life, with Devils and Dragons alike viewing him as a rook on a chessboard.


There is a PALADIN with him. Come on....


Of all the things he could do with those templates, he makes a crossbow rogue? I don't think you have a problem.

Edit: A heavy repeating crossbow and focused shot? Yeah...I can't think of anything worse you can try to do.

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