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Controlling Powergamers in Pathfinder


Advice

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Sczarni

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baalbamoth wrote:

Roac- ABSOLUTELY DISAGREE we have a super PG in our group, he kills most of the enemies in a couple of rounds, the other players rarely get their time to shine in combat and makes us all feel our characters are wimpy worms and not the bad asses we invisoned ourselves to be.

when the DM actually wants the combats to actually be challenging and climatic... he throws things at us that nearly TPK us, a couple of sessions ago a monster got lucky and took out the PG with a bad assed crit, we had to run and all would have died if the DM didnt reduce dammage and start taking less attacks. That made us feel like the game really isnt a challenge because if we do get into trouble the DM will just save everyone to preserve the game.

no... powergaming... real powergaming... is a very serious problem in some games and "working with" the powergamer is like telling a battered wife to learn to deal with her wife beating husband better. generally the best answer is get rid of em, but if thats not possible... you better lay down the law.

So tell me, once you "win" D&D what are you going to do? Victory lap? Host a gala?

After reading this I've come to the conclusion that your definition of "power gaming" is being REALLY combat efficient/effective. So, if that person put that much work into that ONE aspect of the game don't you think that is where they derive their fun? And, if they derive their fun from the combat side of D&D then I would be more concerned with a GM trying to tell me that the way I am having fun is "wrong". There are ZERO perfect characters.

This thread should go from "ban this and that" to "what is the problem and how can we use this to enrich the game for everyone?"


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Carn- his wil save... Extremely poor so the DM cast confusion on him, he attacked the nearest party member did something like 96 pts of damage, and killed him. He then went to attack the next party member and if it wasnt for grease and other spells would have killed him too, Luckily the party member that died was the NPC member but it would have killed any of us. So no, that ended up being a terrible way to "fix" the problem...

Lincoln- the flaw in that line is that the GM increases the danger against "the party" but the power gamer does not care. If the other party members die, he'll get even more magic items because likely he'll be the last to die.. And since he doesnt really care about character progression, developing a backstory or anything but combat he also cares less about character death, it's just a new chance to try the other outrageous build he read about. He is playing against the other players, not with them. So when communication does not work what's the answer?

Ossian- ok and if his idea of fun is making everyone else not have fun IMHO he needs to want to have "less fun" or a different kind of fun. Only way I can think to do that is to penalize him, or limit him in some way. And let's be honest... How much work does it really take to look up a guide on this forum and only pick the blue feats? The only work he's really putting in is trying to justify a gross race or magic item buy etc. And if your telling me having a character concept where your character is tough or competent means your trying to "win," Your probably right then... I do want to win D&D.


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Bart Vervaet wrote:

One thing I do to discourage min/maxing is letting PC's suffer the consequences of dumping ability scores. things like enforcing carrying capacity for low str, creating situations where many different skill checks are required, and hitting them with a variety of saving throws.

Also PCs with low mental scores will suffer in social situations. Low cha PCs will be shunned, low int/wis will be taken advantage of (higher rates in shops/taverns, being bluffed regularly into believing things that will get them into trouble)

most of it is just adjusting encounters to the party.

On the other hand you should also give them the opportunity to shine. Give them some encounters where their maxed out ability can make a difference

Same. It is not bullying, but your 7 cha char will have a lot of problems, and even if they work out how they could really change something to their favour, they don't have the cha to pull it off. Also damages charming or romancing options in regards to npcs.

I like a lot of melee and combat, but it isn't all there is to the game.


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If there's problems with Powergaming then it's the GMs fault. He should step up his game. Learn to play better. A player is at fault only if he's a munchkin. Powergamers are no problem. Seriously, if one player disrupts a game just because his PC is a little stronger than the other PCs, then it's the DMs failure for not being able to deal with such a minor problem. Like it's soooooo hard to throw a stronger enemy at the Powergamer and some mooks at the weaker PCs. Or make an encounter where the Powergamers strengths aren't that helpful. Or simply target his weaknesses once in a while. I don't see an issue.


baalbamoth wrote:
Lincoln- the flaw in that line is that the GM increases the danger against "the party" but the power gamer does not care. If the other party members die, he'll get even more magic items because likely he'll be the last to die.. And since he doesnt really care about character progression, developing a backstory or anything but combat he also cares less about character death, it's just a new chance to try the other outrageous build he read about. He is playing against the other players, not with them. So when communication does not work what's the answer?

It is possible for a GM and the other players to buy into this style of play. So it isn't the powergamer who is the problem, it is the disparity between playstyles that is the problem.

Communication will bring about an end to the problem in one of several ways. The best way is that the Powergamer agrees to tone it down because he's so good at understanding game systems that he understands what it means when the GM asks him to de-escalate. The GM is saying: make it less extreme so that I don't burn out trying to match you and the other players don't get bummed out.

OR a group might decide to step it up to his level.

OR it may be irreconcilable, in which case I would politely suggest a separate game or another group where he could play the game he wants.

In any case, something has to be done. Punitive measures or rules patches will generally only hurt feelings on both sides and make everything way worse.

It sucks to kick someone out of a game, but sometimes it is best for everyone, including the departing player. It's the last option. A lot of powergaming players can be made to tone it down if you just explain to them the GM's philosophy of challenge.


Imperator- its not "a little stronger" it's 20 pts damage vs 100, it's ac 15 vs AC 28... The PG is WAY more powerful than any two other characters, maybe 3. as a player I don't just want to fight the bbeg's thugs and pets, and that sounds repetitive as does just forcing a will save on the PG every single encounter.


This seems to be more a problem with the specific player and not with powergaming in general. Creating rules to limit this player's power will just turn into an arms race. Every time the GM bans something, the player will get huffy and go find another broken build to turn loose on the GM and other players. Honestly, the two best options are 1) talk to the player and/or 2) stop inviting them.

If you talk to the player and they are completely incapable of realizing that they are causing everybody else to not have fun then there is no real answer. They will always create characters that put their fun above that of others. If it isn't melee monsters, they will play summoners or necromancers and control action economy, or rogues and just steal everything, etc.

Even if you are in an area with few players, are you honestly having more fun with this one powergamer than without them? Two or Three person campaigns can be fun. If you already only have two or three players, then maybe the PG should be catered to more. If dropping him will leave you with more than 2 or 3, then you are already golden.

I guess the other "option" is in PFS. If you are running a public game and don't have the ability to screen players. Then you still need to take the PG aside and talk to them.

Another option could be, stack the deck against the PG, kill him quickly and then allow the rest of the encounter to be balanced for the others. After sitting out 90% of every session creating a new character until you "find a place" for him might cool him down.

Grand Lodge

Communication is the key, I think, as many have said before. Its both GM and player responsibility to communicate with each other. Case in point, a wizard in my group took Baleful Polymorph and has been using it liberally. He's ended a few serious encounters that could have been epic fights we'd tell stories about by turning the BBG into a bloody squirrel. Is this a player fubar? IMO no because the DM didnt set ground rules or give the guy guidance on what spells were (not) available. The player could have cleared what he wanted to do with the GM as well, so he takes some of the blame IMO.

When I take my turn GM'ng for our group I focus on player roles as well. I dont mind if they optimize (within reason) as long as they:

-Fit their build into their characters backstory, and expect to roleplay it
-Dont infringe upon/take away from another players role

It also comes back to GM preparation. Knowing what your players characters are capable of so you dont get blind sided and can react REAL TIME and adapt should be a GM CORE COMPETENCY.

Shadow Lodge

What do you do when you get powergamers/munchkins in Pathfinder Society? The GM can't break out rules to balance the situation can they?

If so, can someone give me some examples of what leeway GMs have?


Lincoln- I just don't see why sayin no xyz over powered or commonly abused feats at character creation will hurt feelings... Oh and I'd disagree w that other posting... There are good games with almost no balance issues and extremely few or minor ways to powergame, and they tend to be much more enjoyable to me... Unfortunately, from what I've seen those games don't need to come out with new editions every few years and do poorly in sales the long run eventually becoming extremely obscure.

Grand Lodge

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I agree that it's all about communication. Pathfinder can be interpreted and played in a variety of ways. There's a whole spectrum of play between a roleplay-heavy game with lots of social roles and little to no combat, and a combat-heavy dungeon crawl with little to no NPC interactions or non-combat/trap encounters. That's just one dimension of the game.

Considering all the different ways the game can be run and played, it's not surprising that there's a wide variety of play styles. This isn't a bad thing. However, some play styles may not mesh well with other play styles, depending on the people involved.

As a GM, I feel my "job" is to make sure everyone at the table has fun, including me. As GM, you set the tone for the game. Make it clear to the players what kind of game you're running, and what kind of characters you want to see. Give them guidelines, and don't be afraid to limit their options. I run more than one campaign, and some classes are allowed in some of the campaigns and not in others. It depends on the flavor of that campaign.

If there's a disparity in play styles among your players that's ruining the fun for people, it can be solved with communication. Share your concerns with the group and solicit ideas from them on how to address the problem. If he realizes it's ruining the fun for others and understands why, you may even find that your "powergamer" comes up with the solution.

If the problem, on the other hand, boils down to one person who just doesn't play well with others, then removing that person from the game may be your best option.

I think if you took the time it takes to read this thread to discuss the issues within your group, you will be able to find a solution together.

Silver Crusade

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Richard Leonhart wrote:

just everytime they have to make a decision on how to build their character, remind them that optimizing is bad and takes away fun.

Optimizing is like a reflex that has to be repressed constantly, it's not their fault, it's an illness, an addiction.

If they still do it, either hit them with a stick or don't play with them.

Yeah, being bad at his job is so much fun.

Remember kids, failing saves, attacks and combat maneuvers and making funny bubbles with his own blood while the rest of your group is too busy being heroic never fails to disappoint !


baalbamoth wrote:
Imperator- its not "a little stronger" it's 20 pts damage vs 100, it's ac 15 vs AC 28... The PG is WAY more powerful than any two other characters, maybe 3. as a player I don't just want to fight the bbeg's thugs and pets, and that sounds repetitive as does just forcing a will save on the PG every single encounter.

If the difference is that big I think it is not only a case of one player being an optimiser but a bad case of optimiser meets weak char builders in the rest of the party.

And really, why blame one gui if the rest builds bad PCs.

AC 15 is really weak if you're not the wizard/sorc/witch. So this char is doing something wrong. If the AC 15 IS one of those three I'm sure the 28 is not so you can't compare the two.


Also wanted to say I am getting a lot outa this, agree w most of the posts ( though I enjoy a good debate ) and I will be directing our DM to this thread...

Umbrian- I'm not sure of the numbers other than damage, and the fact that every score on his character sheet seems double or triple most of the other characters... I am running a bit of an OP character but with lots of exploitable flaws who does only slightly above average damage, I did half follow a guide on here, the other characters are vanilla but not weak or under powered... The rogue and ranger characters in our group are also PG characters but still nowhere near this guy.


Maxximilius wrote:

Yeah, being bad at his job is so much fun.

Remember kids, failing saves, attacks and combat maneuvers and making funny bubbles with his own blood while the rest of your group is too busy being heroic never fails to disappoint !

Just to provide another perspective...

If the GM is doing their job and using the encounter balance metrics to challenge the party but not kill them too much*, then it doesn't matter if the party is optimized or what. All that matters in those cases is that the party is roughly equal to each other, or that the GM is good at providing varied challenges that accentuate the different strengths of the party members.

If one PC is routinely dominating all encounters, that's a strong sign that the GM isn't varying his encounters very much. This is common. This is why some people think trip builds are overpowered. They're not, but some GMs *love* medium humanoid opponents.

But the rules of the game are: players make characters. GM does math to create an appropriate challenge. Players fight challenge and might die but probably don't. If the result was not to the GM's liking, he adjusts the challenge.

Whether or not to optimize is a choice. The game doesn't force it, the party play style does.

*:
Killing players is fun, but it is also way too easy given the vast powers allowed to the GM. Encounter balance metrics exist to ensure that you only kill players "by accident" — that they at least have a chance to survive most of the time.

I am NOT a fluffly happy storytime GM. I believe in player death. I aim for near death and I am completely at peace if the result is easier or harder than I planned.


I'm far from the best optimizer on these boards. I'm one of the better optimizers at my table though. One of my friends is a horrible optimizer, and his rules-fu is weak. Pretty much every level he asks me my opinion on several feats and most sessions he asks if I have any spell suggestions.

During combat, he makes his own decisions, but we work together to make sure he comes in with an effective (for our group) character.


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baalbamoth wrote:
Imperator- its not "a little stronger" it's 20 pts damage vs 100, it's ac 15 vs AC 28... The PG is WAY more powerful than any two other characters, maybe 3.

That little? It's hardly an issue.

Quote:
as a player I don't just want to fight the bbeg's thugs and pets, and that sounds repetitive as does just forcing a will save on the PG every single encounter.

If you'll disregard every fix for the problem just because you don't like it, then you won't fix the problem. Simple.


baalbamoth wrote:

so... how do we get powergamers to want less power? how do we make it less rewarding? well you could try negitive re-enforcemnt... tell the players at character creation every week you will give a "much too effective" award to anyone who demonstrates that their character is 20% or more effective than a standard character of their level and class, the award will ammount to 50 DKP... MINUS!!!! oh ah I mean maybe 25% less xp for the session. If it continues, within 4-8 sessions the powergamer will be more in balance (2-3 levels below the vanillas)... but this got me thinking another way too...

as a side note... maybe you could require 1 out of ever 3 feats be deovted to something that has absolutely nothing to do with combat or with their main class features... etc. would that work? go ahead and opt yourself, but if you loose 1/3 of your feats how extreme are you really going to get?

Just a quick note...neither of these are negative reinforcement options, they are punishment, and punishing over-the-top powergaming usually does not work well. Actual negative reinforcement is a very good plan, though, if done well.


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baalbamoth wrote:
its kinda funny, some of the people who have contributed to some of the messageboards most disgusting powergamer builds are now giving good advice on how to control powergamers. (heh)

A lot of people enjoy making strong builds, for the sheer craft of it, and because it helps them understand the rules, but without wanting to break their own or anyone else's campaign. It can be just an exercise in "look what you can do."

Also there's an element of "to be the man, you've gotta beat the man" to it; understanding what can be done helps understand what maybe shouldn't be done.

Likewise, understanding what strong builds can do leads to an understanding of their limitations.

I myself enjoy tweeking, twinking, and constructing characters. Part of this is for the same reason I loved the various iterations of the Traveller ship (and weapon/robot) building rules, even if most of what I designed would never see actual play.

Anyhow back to the thread: I also enjoy powerful builds, but I tend not to build DPR Kings. 1) I'm not great at it (I read CharOp boards to learn). I mainly "power game" for the reasons Ashiel mentioned:

1) I believe that heroic PCs should be, well, heroic. (While also recognizing the place - and fun - of the occasional "grim and gritty" campaign). I like my casters to be strong and my badass normals to be badass. Again, not always, but as a "default mentality." Campaign settings where the default atmosphere is that the NPCs overshadow the PCs grate on me for this reason.

2) I want to contribute to the group in as many contexts as possible, and not feel or be seen as useless. Staying alive and helping others stay alive and so on contributes to that. My own goal, even in my power-gaming mindset, is never to overwhelm the rest of the group or the game/campaign.

3) I have an inordinate desire for my character to, well, survive. Tweeking the character as much as I can (but in ways that still fit the character's theme/persona*) is how I express that. Even while recognizing that, yes, if a DM really wants to, the DM can kill any character at any time (within the rules - which is also why I dislike "challenging" encounters that are built around breaking 1 or more rules. This, to me, is just being lazy and uncreative - my attitude both as a DM, and as a player). A lot of times I build things into my character/character's stuff/character's back-up plan that I don't intend to use unless I really have to; in other words, the intent isn't to go "all out all the time" but just be. . .safe. And prepared. Just in case of barbpocalypse or catnarock.

4) as someone said in another thread, many DMs - while perhaps not wanting to admit it to their (our) selves, are power gamers at heart, and don't like "their" powerful encounters wrecked by a(nother) power gamer. Well, really though, no one can beat a DM in an arms race, so don't worry about it. (The difficulty does come when there is a mixed group, or with "rules lawyers" who come up with rules exploits and try constantly to get you to adopt rule interpretations that favor them - when they favor them - but change their argument when it no longer does. Alas I've had people like that and it's not so easy to say "don't invite them" because they often bring other things - fun things - to the table, and it's a trade-off whether the pain-in-the-ass aspects are worth the gee-this-guy-is-fun-otherwise personality traits, as with any person).

*This is also why, though I have aspects of power-gamer, when I look at the most optimized builds of class X, I rarely end up adopting all of their choices, simply because "wow, well, it would be nice to have that line of feats. . .but then I wouldn't have room for [feat x, which is 'sub-optimal' in not contributing to the primary focus of the build, but which my character has just 'cause. . .that's part of 'what this character is.'], but I digress.


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Irontruth wrote:

I'm far from the best optimizer on these boards. I'm one of the better optimizers at my table though. One of my friends is a horrible optimizer, and his rules-fu is weak. Pretty much every level he asks me my opinion on several feats and most sessions he asks if I have any spell suggestions.

During combat, he makes his own decisions, but we work together to make sure he comes in with an effective (for our group) character.

There's a similar situation at my table, where one of the players is way behind on the rules-mastery aspect. He gets help from the more involved players, one in particular, and he has a blast.

This would be an example of taking the party up closer to the level of the powergamer. It does require the powergamer to be helpful and not a jerk, that's where communication skills come in. Not everyone can do that, but it can work great!


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Quote:
as a side note... maybe you could require 1 out of ever 3 feats be deovted to something that has absolutely nothing to do with combat or with their main class features... etc. would that work? go ahead and opt yourself, but if you loose 1/3 of your feats how extreme are you really going to get?

Would you force a player that optimises his pc to be a face to spend 1/3 of his feats on combat feats, too?

Perhaps the combat optimised ps's player feels overwhelmed out of combat too. So you should punish both, the in combat optimiser and the out of combat optimiser.


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ossian666 wrote:
So tell me, once you "win" D&D what are you going to do? Victory lap? Host a gala?

When I win D&D forever the Emperor will grant a Triumph (Roman-style) in my honour, I'll be paraded through the streets of Thyatis the City (or whichever Byzantium/Constantinople exists in a given campaign world), with the citizens raining flower petals down on me while bands of bards play rousing marching music as I wave to the admiring crowds lining the boulevards and avenues.

The Triumph will culminate in the Hippodrome, where the Patriarch will give an invocation and bless me, following which the Emperor will give a short speech celebrating my achievement, and place the gilded garland on my head. Then I'll give my own remarks to the assembled crowd, rousing them to great deeds.

After that, I'll be ascended by the Immortals as one of their number, and given my own Crystal-Sphere sized demi-plane to lord over.

Yada yadda yadda; there's a lot moar detail, of course, but you get the idea.


Our campaign was kind of difficult in so far as "where do you draw the line between a power player and just some one who likes combat?" I ended up quitting the sessions and being kind of turned off by it because eventually our game degenerated into no RP at all and all focus on combat. I see a lot of mention in this thread about the game being story or 'theatrics' first and action second, and I have only had few instances where that was the case. In a situation like this, would anyone consider those players power players, even though they aren't doing traditional min-maxing? (Although one of our players was a former GM who was knowledgeable enough about the system to min-max a bit.)

As far as an answer to your question, instead of just adding another: You might be surprised how far a little thievery can go. One thing I think works really well and also tests your players limits is to put them in a situation where they lose their equipment for some reason or another. May not work as well with casters, but if any of you are familiar with the region of Golarion surrounding Alkenstar, there are mana wastes. Coming up with a well thought out reason for a min-maxer to lose his or her equipment (temporarily of course) or for a caster to have their powers temporarily weakened I think is a great exercise in seeing how well they get on with just their wits.

Shadow Lodge

ImperatorK wrote:
baalbamoth wrote:
Imperator- its not "a little stronger" it's 20 pts damage vs 100, it's ac 15 vs AC 28... The PG is WAY more powerful than any two other characters, maybe 3.
That little? It's hardly an issue.

This is kinda the point. For him, this is a drastic difference. At my table it would be too. But for you it's so minor as to not even be considered, apparently.

Count me in on the group that says anyone who's distinctly outshining the rest of the party, to the point of anything thrown at them that actually challenges them will wipe the floor with the entirety of the rest of the PCs, should probably be pulled aside and talked to. Unfortunately it sounds like this player and the GM are in an arms race with one another, to the exclusion/ignoring/detriment of the rest of the party.

At the same time, players shouldn't be penalized for playing their characters effectively. If a player makes a Fighter, he'd better be good at fighting things, else what's the point of being a Fighter? They're not doing the job they signed up for. If a player makes a social face character, but nukes their Charisma and doesn't take ranks in social skills, again they're not doing their job. Characters are designed to be able to work together in a party with different specialties, and in a best-case scenario should be able to support one another in the things they can do and let the others shine in the things they can't, but GMs don't always remember to balance encounters between differing specialties, which is a failing on their part.


Jato Jay wrote:
Our campaign was kind of difficult in so far as "where do you draw the line between a power player and just some one who likes combat?" I ended up quitting the sessions and being kind of turned off by it because eventually our game degenerated into no RP at all and all focus on combat.

IMO that's a different issue, though, and while I agree with you it's not RPing, I also - well, to me no gamer can be truly said to "enjoy the combat aspect of the game" if their build goal/accomplishment is to win every battle in 1-2 rounds.

Now of course "no one should have as a goal letting the Big Bad get in more shots than necessary" but to me it's also not even a "combat-oriented campaign" if every encounter is "GM introduces the monster" and, the words are barely out of his mouth before he has to announce "and it's dead. NEXT!"

Quote:
May not work as well with casters,

Actually, if people use the RAW - which, admittedly, most don't (*especially* power-gaming casters; trust me, I know!) - stealing the caster's component bag can nerf them right good.

Simply making them keep track of their components can make them step back, like a brush-back pitch in Bahsehball. I don't even mean just the expensive ones (I personally always like Eschew Matieriels - but I notice most builds don't spend a feat on that, and it's not because people envision their powerful gawd-wizard fumbling around with fetishes like some kind of burn-out: it's because most campaigns simply don't track "minor" components, 'cause it's a chore and a pain. But then of *course* casters start to see themselves as unhindered living gawds).


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baalbamoth wrote:
...as a player I don't just want to fight the bbeg's thugs and pets, and that sounds repetitive ...

Joffrey and the Hound.

Those of you who have read A Game of Thrones or seen the HBO show. Joffery is possibly the most hateful character imaginable, a horrible, sadistic child prince with too much power. He's also a wimp. The Hound is his menacing bodyguard, a wall of steel plate, sharp edges and scarred muscle.

Instead of setting up a fight where your powergamer gets to fight the big evil bad guy while your other players scrap with his faceless hirelings, set up a fight where your powergamer must keep a Hound occupied while your other players chase down a Joffery.

In other words, the power level of threats can be calibrated to your players without diminishing their emotional involvement in fights.


I don't understand why players should be punished for using the rules as written. somebody said maybe in the other post the OP started they disallow the snapshot feats. I don't understand the thinking behind that, if a character is a ranged master he obviously has other weakness the GM can throw at him. I cant tell you the times I have used dominate to turn the party's fighter against the party. every strength has a weakness, and I have said this before if I am going to be a wizard I am going to be the best wizard. as a DM it is your job to work with me not ban feats outright that you don't agree with. if we are running the same system there is a unspoken agreement that I can use the system and make a character that fits what I want to do. I do agree that every character needs a back story he cant just be URG form the north. the whole point of the AP is you are supposed to be heroes. not Joe the the plumber. Now I do think there is a difference between optimization and power gaming or min maxing or being a munchkin. but it sounds like to me you are not making any distinction. and saying play my way or die. that is never fun.


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Evil Lincoln wrote:
Irontruth wrote:

I'm far from the best optimizer on these boards. I'm one of the better optimizers at my table though. One of my friends is a horrible optimizer, and his rules-fu is weak. Pretty much every level he asks me my opinion on several feats and most sessions he asks if I have any spell suggestions.

During combat, he makes his own decisions, but we work together to make sure he comes in with an effective (for our group) character.

There's a similar situation at my table, where one of the players is way behind on the rules-mastery aspect. He gets help from the more involved players, one in particular, and he has a blast.

This would be an example of taking the party up closer to the level of the powergamer. It does require the powergamer to be helpful and not a jerk, that's where communication skills come in. Not everyone can do that, but it can work great!

Agreed. But if you're playing with a jerk, the primary problem isn't that he's a power gamer.

Andoran

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'Powergamer' is a weird term. It's highly subjective and what, in one group, would be considered a powergamer build, might well be thought of as an extremely weak character in another.

To rephrase something I just posted in aqnother thread: The important thing isn't how powerful a character is taken in a vaccuum, it's how powerful they are compared to the other PCs. I mean, if the whole PC group is more powerful (or less powerful) it's relatively simple for the GM to compensate (with either harder or easier encounters)...but if one PC is vastly more effective than the pothers then they're considered a powergamer. The problem's actually just as bad if they're less powerful, but that's usually called something else. The important thing is to ensure player parity of power, and nobody is a powergamer in any meaningful sense except compared to the other members of the group.

Additionaly, people use the term to mean at least three different things (1. Someone who undertstands the system and uses that knowledge in their character building, 2. Someone utterly focused on rules at the expense of roleplaying, 3. Someone who likes powerful characters, or 4. All of the above). People like shoving things in these neat litle boxes in their heads, putting labels on things, and that has a whole host of problems even under ideal circumstances, and in this case we can't even all agree on what the label means.

Am I a powergamer?

I was once told I could play anything in the Bestiary and spent several hours finding something that would be powerful, effective, and fun (and wound up playing a Doppleganger Paladin with a Str of 26, a Cha of 20, and no stat below 14), I have more system mastery than most of my group, and use it to make my chareacters effective, and I love playing characters who can readily defeat their opponents in almost any arena. My Drow Bard in the Evil game I played in was more feared by the GM than the melee Druid, since he was more effective

On the other hand, I've played a Halfling Rogue with no Archetypes and high Charisma in what I was ensured was a deadly game, just because that was the concept that drew me, I crafted a backstory for that Doppleganger Paladin that was both epic and tragic (and more than a bit messed up), I never have Intelligence or Charisma below 12 because I can't justify roleplaying the way I like to without high ratings in both, and I love games with minimal combat as much as (if not more than) those that are combat heavy.

Where do people like me fit? Do we need to be 'controlled'?


Quote:
This is kinda the point. For him, this is a drastic difference. At my table it would be too. But for you it's so minor as to not even be considered, apparently.

As I said, it's the GMs fault if he can't deal with such a non-issue. I pity anyone who is overwhelmed by this much (which isn't much at all).


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I'm not sure how pathfinder is "unbalanced." I mean, yeah some builds are better than others, and a ship shaped like a grain of rice will sail faster than a ship shaped like an anvil. Admittedly there are a few heroic archetypes that pathfinder just doesn't "do" very well, like if I remember correctly (been a while since I min-maxed a front-line warrior-type) playing the d'Artagnan poncy fencer-type is just NEVER going to kill things like Bashy McGee, the heavy with a Greatsword.

But anything else is as much a question of the adventure as it is a question of mechanics. No build covers everything, Ginsu the Chopper won't ALSO be Lord Ansem the Influential or Tinker the Tricky, so if Ginsu the Chopper is the only one seeing action then you've probably made a mistake with where the party is going.

But okay, you want to make your ship like an anvil because THAT'S HOW YOU ROLL MOTHER(&*^(*%. I can dig it, and goodness know I don't want to DM. You got 3 options, you can dig and pull and tear your hair out trying to "balance" pathfinder by chopping out feats, denying supplements, stripping out skills or lowering special abilities. That's a lot of work and I won't be doing it for you. I am lazy.

OR, you can set up your players with premades! They still get input since you can do something like the Vault-tec GOAT to let them pick basic character ideas and tie their upgrades and abilities as they level to decisions they make. For the illusion of choice you usually give them a choice of two or three on feats and upgrade their skills based on what they actually do. If they practice magic with the party wizard every night before bed they can multi-class later, if they didn't they can't. Too bad.

OR, tell everyone in the group to pass their character sheets to the right, Ginsu the Chopper is now Olympia the Bard with a 16 charisma. "Have fun with that. Expand your horizons as a role-player."


Aratrok wrote:
Ashiel wrote:

Mummies are stuffed with sacred holy incense and flowers. Does that count? Hah, that would be funny. A halfling mummy wizard or sorcerer. Talk about bizarre. Might make for a funny gish.

Hm, let's see. Venerable is +3, halfling is +2, lich is +2. That would be +7 Charisma or or +3.5 modifier. Not the end of the world, but looking way better due to losing few levels, and you get way better modifiers. The venerable bit kind of crushes your Dexterity though (-4 net total, so -2 AC and Reflex). The +1 to all saves and +4 to stealth is pretty cool though. Gnomes might be amusing liches too. I'm really not sure the +1 CR for being a noble drow is worth the bump to Dexterity and other mental stats. Halfling definitely seems better, and won't delay your getting to better spells as much.

But yeah, why be a noble drow when you could just be the normal drow? They're better due to lack of CR adjustment. Heck, noble drow make terrible NPCs due to their LA too. Just shoveling XP at players for something barely better than the norm. :P

Wait, undead accrue physical penalties for age categories? I thought they only received mental bonuses, since they're immortal and their bodies don't deteriorate under normal circumstances. I guess they'd have the penalty if they were already venerable before becoming undead, but what if they were still young when they were converted?

Seems a bit unlikely in the case of becoming a lich, but it could happen for a type of undead that requires another person's intervention.

I am pretty sure that no bonuses or penalties for aging accrue after a character becomes undead, since age categories are based on percentage of maximum age and undead essentially have indefinite lifespans. The applicability of the age category is how old the character was before he became undead.


Deadmanwalking wrote:

Am I a powergamer?

I was once told I could play anything in the Bestiary and spent several hours finding something that would be powerful, effective, and fun (and wound up playing a Doppleganger

IMO if you were told you could play anything in the Bestiary and chose Doppleganger, you'er not a power gamer.

A power-gamer is someone to whom the DM would be much more foolish saying "you can play anything in the Bestiary" than that.

As someone with power-gaming inclinations, I would ask my DM the famous DM question:

DM (to me): "You can play anything in the Bestiary"

Me: "Are you sure you want to do that?"

DM: ". . ."


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I feel the need to add a personal note. I'm a lousy GM, and I run a Shadowrun campaign with this sort of problem.

If I were willing to work really hard I could learn all the rules and make it a battle of wits between me and super-powergamer mystical adept shifter orc, I could have carefully-planned encounters that don't allow him and his 2 powergamed-by-him friends to basically one-round every fight they encounter.

But I don't want to, because I have a bunch of prefabs modules and frankly DMing doesn't really tweak my interest, so I have a much simpler method of handling things. I let them win.

As long as they're having fun then the game works, and maybe they're unstoppable terrifying combat gods that bring down military-grade attack choppers and maybe they've got a rap sheet with The Godz and the Casquillho mafia as long as my arm. But they also have zero street cred because they murdered 2 teams of runners and their money is no good in several establishments no matter how much they have. They still live in squalor, they have to replace their tech every so often because they have no hackers worth spit, and I can passive-aggressively point out at any time that poor innocent child they kidnapped who later got brutally murdered.

Also Shadowrun's a fast-fatality game, you only get so many hit boxes.


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Pathfinder Adventure Path, Campaign Setting, Companion, Roleplaying Game Subscriber

I'd say just talk with the powergamers if their characters are really so powerful that they're being disruptive. If he's unwilling to either tone his character down or help the other players make their characters more powerful, then you'll either need to slowly weaken him by giving him weaker items than the other players or have him leave the game.

I tend to be a bit of a powergamer, so I occasionally ask my GM if he wants me to tone back any aspects of my current build. I tend to feel that I need to make my characters as powerful as possible to survive what the GM throws at me, so if I'm told that I need to make my character less powerful it will actually make me happy because that means I can free up a few feats for 'fun' abilities.

Andoran

Porphyrogenitus wrote:

IMO if you were told you could play anything in the Bestiary and chose Doppleganger, you'er not a power gamer.

A power-gamer is someone to whom the DM saying "you can play anything in the Bestiary" would be much more foolish than that.

As someone with high power-gaming inclinations, I would ask my DM the famous DM question:

DM (to me): "You can play anything in the Bestiary"

Me: "Are you sure you want to do that?"

Him: ". . ."

To clarify: Anything level appropriate, with that level being 5, and needing at least one class level. So CR 4 or less only (and Bestiary 1 only, since this was before any of the others existed). And someone else was already playing a Weretiger, so lycanthropes were pretty much out.

And I did exactly that. I was told yes. This was a mistake on his part, IMO, not so much because of me, but because of the guy who played the weretiger...


There is the "character building" minigame in pathfinder that isn't fun unless there is variation in the power of different builds. This is the same reason that characters are so convoluted to make in PF, because if character building weren't a game unto itself then I would say that 3.5/PF is one of the worst character building systems around.

In general, you can limit the power spread by more tightly controlling player options. For instance, you could have all premade characters. You could achieve perfect balance if you only have one premade character to choose from...

IMO if you want good character balance in D&D style combat, then you should seriously take a look at 4e core.

Lantern Lodge

Powergaming is not a problem for a home game. Don't allow the summoner class. Besides that, if your PCs are OP then simply raise your average ECL by 1. Keep doing this until you've found a happy medium but still award your players greater XP. They will relish the challenge of combat while still being rewarded for the time and thought they've put into their PCs. For powergamers, pushing the limits is where they have fun in Pathfinder so if they are able to build their chars so powerful that an ECL+3 is no sweat then they will certainly have fun.

If you have one powergamer, then talk with him away from everyone and explain that he needs to help the rest of the group. Let him then speak with the rest of the party and help them with their builds. This will build PC teamwork.

Also, powergaming should not be strictly about combat. Before your powergamer assists everyone you should ask what they want their PC to do. Then powergame him so he is absolutely the best at doing just that.

The only time powergaming becomes a problem is when someone deliberately chooses a character simply because it's OP and has no roleplaying. But that is not Pathfinder's fault, it is the fault of the player.


Deadmanwalking wrote:
To clarify: Anything level appropriate, with that level being 6.
Fair enough; CR6 could still break the game if someone wanted to, even with just the Bestiary (or "MM"). Which leads us to. . .
Quote:
And I did exactly that. I was told yes. This was a mistake on his part, IMO, not so much because of me, but because of the guy who played the weretiger...

That guy's the power gamer, IMO. Sounds to me more like you picked something to have fun with but with a goal of 1) using what the DM gave you but 2) having fun with it without being over-the-top about it.

It also sounds to me more like you flipped through the book looking for something that, yes, would have some kewl abilities but mostly be fun to play with an interesting backstory to RP with, rather than looking for "what has abilities that will synergize with the ruurs just so in order to max out my DPS [or whatever]."

I consider that a powerful campaign (because of the special option the DM provided you), but not you a power gamer. The weretiger guy sounds closer to the later.


To be quite honest, I wouldn't say powergaming is an issue on its own. Rather it's an issue of there are also people in the party that are bad at making characters. It's actually interesting that nearly every single character has some sort of weakness.


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ImperatorK wrote:
Quote:
This is kinda the point. For him, this is a drastic difference. At my table it would be too. But for you it's so minor as to not even be considered, apparently.
As I said, it's the GMs fault if he can't deal with such a non-issue. I pity anyone who is overwhelmed by this much (which isn't much at all).

Thank god you're not at our table because that kind of attitude would get you voted out of the game.

Andoran

Porphyrogenitus wrote:
Fair enough; CR6 could still break the game if someone wanted to, even with just the Bestiary (or "MM"). Which leads us to. . .

Actually, I found the old character sheet (yes, I keep those), and I was wrong aboout the specific number. Edited above. Still probably could've done something wosrse...but not that much worse.

Porphyrogenitus wrote:
That guy's the power gamer, IMO. Sounds to me more like you picked something to have fun with but with a goal of 1) using what the DM gave you but 2) having fun with it without being over-the-top about it.

Does your opinion change based on the fact that I built his character for him prior to my joining the game? After he explicitly asked me to 'make it as broken as possible'. And that I was the first one he thought of to help with that?

I actually feel a little bad about doing that. But only a little.

Porphyrogenitus wrote:
It also sounds to me more like you flipped through the book looking for something that, yes, would have some kewl abilities but mostly be fun to play with an interesting backstory to RP with, rather than looking for "what has abilities that will synergize with the ruurs just so in order to max out my DPS [or whatever]."

True enough. And goes back to what I was saying about everyone having different definitions. :)

Porphyrogenitus wrote:
I consider that a powerful campaign (because of the special option the DM provided you), but not you a power gamer. The weretiger guy sounds closer to the later.

Oh, he was. In that game anyway. He was seeing how much he could push the envelope under a newbie GM, and isn't usually quite that bad.


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Deadmanwalking wrote:
Oh, he was. In that game anyway. He was seeing how much he could push the envelope under a newbie GM, and isn't usually quite that bad.

Taking advantage of poor, innocent noobs. Tch! And you helped him!

IMO that's hardly a fair fight!

Andoran

Porphyrogenitus wrote:

Taking advantage of poor, innocent noobs. Tch! And you helped him!

IMO that's hardly a fair fight!

Hence with the feeling bad about it afterwards. :(

And I only feel a little bad because it was also, I think, an important learning experience for the GM in question.

Sczarni

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So what it seems to come down to is the OP made a "crumby" character half hazardly and the "PG" went ahead and did some research and made a "good" character.

I'm curious can you post up the details of everyone's characters? Like Race, Class, Some feats, spells and abilities, and maybe any relevent information for us to look at? I'm sure everyone here is curious about the "PG" you keep ranting about.

Then once you do that I am positive that you will get atleast 10 of us that can easily poke a hole in this so called "god".

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Ossian- ok and if his idea of fun is making everyone else not have fun IMHO he needs to want to have "less fun" or a different kind of fun. Only way I can think to do that is to penalize him, or limit him in some way. And let's be honest... How much work does it really take to look up a guide on this forum and only pick the blue feats? The only work he's really putting in is trying to justify a gross race or magic item buy etc. And if your telling me having a character concept where your character is tough or competent means your trying to "win," Your probably right then... I do want to win D&D.

Well to combat your remarks I have to ask...if its so easy to look up the blue feats on the forums why didn't you do it? And using your mentality of, "having a character concept where your character is tough or competent means your trying to "win," Your probably right then... I do want to win D&D", its ok for YOU to "win D&D" but not for the other guy? Personally I see a lot wrong with not only the discussion but specifically your motives. If you feel your character is sub par or not quite what you expected then it may be time to just pull the GM aside and ask if you can rework your character because you are not happy with the way it turned out.

Quote:

When I win D&D forever the Emperor will grant a Triumph (Roman-style) in my honour, I'll be paraded through the streets of Thyatis the City (or whichever Byzantium/Constantinople exists in a given campaign world), with the citizens raining flower petals down on me while bands of bards play rousing marching music as I wave to the admiring crowds lining the boulevards and avenues.

The Triumph will culminate in the Hippodrome, where the Patriarch will give an invocation and bless me, following which the Emperor will give a short speech celebrating my achievement, and place the gilded garland on my head. Then I'll give my own remarks to the assembled crowd, rousing them to great deeds.

After that, I'll be ascended by the Immortals as one of their number, and given my own Crystal-Sphere sized demi-plane to lord over.

Yada yadda yadda; there's a lot moar detail, of course, but you get the idea.

Meant more for the guy trying to "win" D&D before his compatriot, but humorous none-the-less!


To the OP question (I'm assuming you are the GM from the way the OP is worded).

1) Talk to you players. Do not give hints (many people like me do not pick up on hints). Very directly say to them "this game has to be fun for everyone INCLUDING ME. I do not have fun when some of you power build a PC way beyond some of the others PC's. I do not enjoy when all of the story I have crafted is ignored so you can get to the next fight. No one is supposed to be in a competition to make the other players look bad. You can still build a melee machine. Just don't make him dumber than a box of rocks, uglier than a possum, and the awareness of a tortoise."

2) You want a system that "The players can't abuse." Sorry, can't be done. As soon as you get rules more complicated than checkers, there is always going to be someone who understands those rules enough better than the others to make things way unbalanced.

3) Make the social interaction matter. If they can't perform the investigation to find where the smugglers are, they can't get to the next fight. Also, if a PC does absolutely nothing to contribute to moving the story along in social situations, he should get no experince for those social situations. (You have to be very careful with this one to not create resentment. If they are actively trying and participating they should still get the exp's even if they didn't accomplish a whole lot.) Some groups are ok with some PC's being a lump in social situations while others are a lump in combat. Many are not. Personally I find it very boring to have half an adventure where my PC can not contribute even if it is overall pretty effective.

4) Use 15 point buy. Slow or medium level progression. No magic marts. Stick at least in the ball park of wealth by level. Maybe even stick with the CRB for a campaign. I often find that people complaining about someone powergaming really is the result of the GM giving too much to the players and not realizing it would make that big a deal.

5) Have intelligent enemies spy/study the PC's and make plans for them. It is perfectly reasonable that Duke Demento will notice that they have a couple of nearly unbeatable melee fanatic. So maybe he will higher a bunch of flying faeries to zap them with ray wands. Archers at the top of a cliff or across dificult terrain. Clerics with a bunch of will save spells. Etc... Or maybe he notices that the spell casters are really the ones saving the PC's. So he brings along a couple of sorcerers that are ordered to do nothing but counterspell the PC's. He is after all an evil genius.

Of these, number 1) is really the most important. A lot of folks (especially guys) are very competitive. Sports, school, testosterone, and everything we experience growing up tends to reinforce that. So they will be (possibly unconsciously) competing with the other players or GM to try and beat them at the game. Many people really do not realize that an RPG is usually intended to be different. It is cooperating WITH each other to have fun together.


I think the solution to powergamers is a good GM and party expectations. I play with a very experienced group and all are capable of making competent characters although a couple of us are definite powergamers. Does it matter? No, and here's why:

1. The GM balances encounter types. The bard gets lots of opportunities to do his thing, the rogue gets to be sneaky and find traps, the barbarian gets to make things explode in melee and the cleric and wizard get to be generally awesome. Everyone gets their moments to shine.

2. Our party is all good at different things. We discuss before a campaign what everyone wants to play and make sure we have the bases covered. We are very happy that the barbarian unloads 100 points of damage in a round because no one else can even come close to that. When the barbarian doesn't show up everyone else has to work twice as hard if we want to survive. Just like we struggle when the bard doesn't show or the cleric doesn't show, etc.

If you have two melee type and one is head and shoulders better than the other it is going to create negative feelings. In pathfinder there are lots of different roles to focus on so why duplicate?

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