How often do you see players try to break the game?


Pathfinder First Edition General Discussion


The forums are a great place to learn the little cracks in the game rules that allow for unbridled mayhem. Simulacrum silliness, for instance, along with various other tidbits.

It's made me wonder. In the games I've played, I've yet to encounter someone intentionally attempting to break the game. Even if a player might have enough rules mastery to do so, they tend to be more interested in having fun--both in and out of combat--rather than creating a scenario wherein the game breaks down.

Is it different for others, or are we all just spinning our wheels over extremely rare hypotheticals? :p


I do it in about 50% of my games.

Sczarni

I passive aggressively give my players guilt-trips for trying to break the game. I have players that optimize HARD. I did not make them, that's just how they are. They enjoy cooky concepts and min maxing. Perhaps they just need time and experience to get it out of their system.

Anyway, I give them guilt trips. I say things like "you know as I GM, I have to do my best to balance the encounters to the whole party so that you all have fun, but sometimes a rift is created where the level 3 tank has 30 AC, and the wizard has a base of 10. What do I do then? It's not easy being a GM" and then if I have to, i'll rub it in; I'll attack the tank two or three times and then have the creature say screw it, i'm going to two-shot the squishy. You can thank the level 3 AC 30 tank for that one.

Dark Archive

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Pathfinder Adventure Path Subscriber

Never, this is because my players are not terrible people interested in breaking everyone elses toys, and if the were, I WOULD SMASH THEM UNTIL THEY WERE NOT.


I've got a guy playing a bladebound magus in the Shattered Star game I'm running, and he's constantly misunderstanding the way rules work in such a way that it's entirely beneficial to him. I'm not 100% sure that he's doing this intentionally, so I've been giving him the benefit of the doubt... but when I wrote out a ridiculously long, in depth explanation of how Magical Lineage (or whichever trait it is that allows you to lower the effective slot of a spell by one after applying metamagic to it), and he started trying to use his flawed understanding that prompted my explanation in the very next session, I started to feel that there may be something more to it.

Other than that I've not found anyone outright trying to break my game. They sometimes manage it through sheer stupidity and whacky shenanigans though.

EDIT: In case anyone is wondering, the attempted shenanigans with Magical Lineage was that, as he read the rules, it should just reduce the level of the spell by one even if no metamagic is applied, therefore Shocking Grasp was a cantrip for him and he could spam it all day long through Spellstrike.

Admittedly, given that this player has managed to roll a minimum of four ones every session, usually on attack rolls, I could probably have let this slide and not have seen too much impact on the game. Last session the poor sod rolled five nat ones in a row for attacks, then rolled another one when trying to use a wand.


Played with one really annoying guy in a 3.5 game who once seriously tried to convince the DM he should be allowed to use the Pun Pun build, but that's really about it.


I have accidentally done it a couple of times. I optimize pretty well but I try to leave at least one BLARING weakness that the DM can exploit (low AC, specific low save, etc.) I am one of the people who designs a character concept first and then mechanics. But I try to be the VERY best at that concept which can sometimes make a DMs life difficult.

And even if you don't intentionally not hole up a weakness for the GM no build is PERFECT ( well with a PUN PUN exceptions that break the rule) and there is always something you can do that the Player/Character stare at and go huh?. I have been in pick up games in 3.5 where people would try crap and always loved it when the GM was smart and knowledgeable enough to just completely crap on them. (And yes it is perfectly valid to build an encounter to fight a specific person if that person INTENTIONALLY is trying to break the game)


I've had it happen a number of times, mostly with an old group I later ditched whose playstyle was fundamentally meanspirited; the reward for them was in breaking the game and 'winning' against the GM and other players. If I had been interested in that sort of competition it might have been fun, but it was sort of explicitly.... /not/ what I or the other players in the group wanted.


Every 2nd or 3rd forum thread usually- if it goes that long between breaks.

In actual games?

Any "break the game" things usually die as soon as they spit out of the mouth. Some things just sound alot better in one's head than they do floating out in the air.

"Hey X means I can do Y Z ABCDEFGHI.. err.. oh.. well.. yeah, nevermind. I cast Fireball" or summat.

For most things its easy to see when pushing it is going to break it, so you just ease off and try a different route. Breaking the game isn't fun. Winning without breaking the game- therein lies the excitement.

-S


The last time I had an "At the Table" incident was about '93. We were playing Cyberpunk. I told the players beforehand that the emphasis would be on the PUNK, not the Cyber. The baddies would be 'undergunned' to the same degree the party was; pistols v. pistols, rifles v rifles and cannon v. cannon; arms race at your own risk! You get the idea. So, one player makes the 'untouchable' character, makes a one sided victory for himself. I warned him, "You are stepping out of the established bounds of our game, please rein it in." Next session, he pulled a rinse and repeat. Session after? He called to ask "What are we doing this weekend?"

My reply: "We are playing Cyberpunk. I have no idea what you are doing."

GNOME


Lord Pendragon wrote:

The forums are a great place to learn the little cracks in the game rules that allow for unbridled mayhem. Simulacrum silliness, for instance, along with various other tidbits.

It's made me wonder. In the games I've played, I've yet to encounter someone intentionally attempting to break the game. Even if a player might have enough rules mastery to do so, they tend to be more interested in having fun--both in and out of combat--rather than creating a scenario wherein the game breaks down.

Is it different for others, or are we all just spinning our wheels over extremely rare hypotheticals? :p

Tends to be more about the GM than the players.

Simulacrum is a great example. All things created by it have abilities that the GM considers appropriate for a 1/2 HD critter. If that spell is breaking your game, your definition of appropriate is WAY off.


I'm lucky, I've only had one player attempt to optimize at my table in a way that actually caused conflict with other players. He didnt last long (he got into a fight with one of the other players about him attempting to dominate/break the game at every session, and he quickly got offended and didn't come back).
Unfortunately, that was also a Magus player. I am hoping to see a magus played in a way that isn't overly optimized, but it looks like they're one of the go-to classes for that sort of behaviour. Even the summoner we had didn't try to optimize like he did.
Since then, we've only had players who aim to have fun. Currently I'm GMing a RotRL game consisting of a human Fighter, a Kitsune rogue, a Vanara monk, a Vanara ranger, and an Elf sorcerer. It has been very fun to GM so far :P


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I have seen it in con games more than at the table.

Scratch that--I have known and gamed with people who LIVED to break games. Also with people who carried personal grudges from one game to the next. ("You backstabbed my Halfling fighter back in 1992. Now I finally have my revenge!") Sometimes they were the same people.

My life got much easier when I turfed them out of my games.

Anyway, at cons... Some people seem to view cons as their personal playground, and their goal is to break the games they sign up for. I know one guy who described--with sick glee--the time he signed up to play in a con game where the GM was running a module the player had memorized, and he made a point of calling out the traps, ambushes, and whatnot.

Another guy said his goal was to make GM's cry.

Some people. Bleh.


Not ever really, which is why I don't get involved in these discussions. We had some disagreements over what was appropriate... back in the 2nd Edition days when I was in high school. And even that wasn't remotely like the stuff people talk about in threads here every day.

The secret to my success? Recruiting new gamers, mostly. It's way easier to make sure people play the way you like when you're introducing them to gaming and getting them used to it through the lens of your games.

It also helps to avoid the sort of folks Antimony is talking about. That's not just gaming advice, though. Not being friends with jerks has all sorts of benefits.

Cheers!
Landon


Pathfinder Adventure Path Subscriber

Well first there is the debate over what "breaking the game is"

I don't consider strange concepts to be breaking, in fact if it's flavorful fluff I encourage it.

Now if the player's idea of flavor is "I always solo the encounter in the surprise round" I consider that game breaking via optimization/system mastery. If the entire group does it, then again it is fine by me. It doesn't ruin my fun or anyone else's. I also have some of my Society characters optimized. I also have a couple Core Society characters (aside from traits which aren't Core to begin with) which are mostly re-skinned pregens.

The issue is when not everyone optimizes well and you run into disparity. Unless the player prefers playing Joe Average cheerleader and is good with sending rah-rahs to the rest of the party who are system gods, AND the optimaxers are okay with a character that doesn't top the "I WIN" build charts, eventually there's some friction that's generated. And it makes balancing combat on the GM side worse.

I see this in Society play. One person (usually a new player) brings in pretty much a Core character who is a diplomat or a good-aligned "hero", and the rest of the table are system-god optimaxed amoral chaotic greedy home-invading murdering hobos. The diplomat can function well in and out of combat, the optimaxed are useful pretty much only in combat, which if they go first (and they usually do) it's over in 1 round. And then's there the conflict between someone who likes to roleplay around a encounter (not everyone likes to kill everyone they meet) and the others who simply want to see how much overkill they can do.

The other issue pointed out above is not breaking the game, it's outright cheating which is just sad or simple misunderstanding of the rules. Again I consider that to be a different kind of issue.


The players at my table are avid optimizers. However, none of them have intentionally tried to break the game.


Pathfinder Pawns Subscriber; Pathfinder Roleplaying Game Superscriber

It depends on the player. I've had players (not always bad people, mind you) whose minds just worked that way - they didn't see breakage; they saw opportunity. I had to gently and in a friendly manner that I saw a pain in the ass who was sucking the fun out of the game.

Often, that was enough to solve the problem and move on to the fun. Where that didn't work, the problem was usually bigger than the game and I asked those folks not to return. It was never fun to do, but I never once regretted it.

The one I see the hardest feelings over is the power of illusion. Players seem to think that illusions should not conform to the relative power of the other spells at that level. I disagree and there can be some problems there. When I see a player concentrate on illusions, I always take the time to explain that a first level illusion is not going to accomplish what a fourth-level illusion is designed to do.


We have some min/maxing optimizers in our group. While it makes balancing encounters a chore for the DM, none have intentionally tried to break the game and all have been willing to work with me when I've asked them to.

I don't think min/maxing ruins the game, but some people simply can't do it and not crap all over the fun of others.


I sort of did it by accident in Mundane's "All Underwater All-Stars" game. I still feel bad about it. She said it would be challenging, and we started at like 8th level or something. So I specced out a Codzilla-type cleric, thinking we'd have some wizards and druids and stuff. Party introductions are made, and we've got a high-Cha cavalier and a skirmisher fighter-type. I had a sinking feeling that a TPK was looming, but instead, as the last fight wore on, clearly in our favor and just a matter of time, one of the other players remarked, "Why are the rest of us even here?" In my defense, I tried to point out that if the cavalier hadn't instantly charge-killed the BBEG in the first round, all my cleanup wouldn't be helping at all, but still, he got round 1 and I took care of rounds 2-6, and the poor skirmisher fighter didn't really get to play. :(


Never.

Closest thing we had was in a VERY high level 3.5 game, where a guy had Psionic Timestop, and he took maybe a half-hour to do his turn. But he wasn’t trying to break the game, just that he never thought ahead.

Another guy does like to TALK about his theorycrafted broken ideas. He never actually plays one.

We had a player whose Eidolon was pretty broken, so next level he rebuilt it. He also had made a math error, so easy to do with the Summoner.

We have another guy who really enjoys building a super optimized character- then he sets self-imposed RPing nerfs to bring it back down to slightly under the rest of the PC’s. He has fun doing this, so why not?

The point is, we play with friends. D&D is a Game. You play Games to have Fun. Broken is NOT FUN.

Yes, occ there's a jerk, and he leaves. Happens. Generally he is not smart enough to really build a broken character, just tries to cheat.

So, I have been playing since 1974, in 5 areas with dozenss of campaigns and hundreds and hundreds of players, and thus as you can see- pretty much it never happens IRL.

But I agree with Antimony, I have seen some pretty broken stuff at cons.

Liberty's Edge

Generally only on the messageboards. We've had a few players who the GM had to read the spell to them, and we've had a few times in 3.5 where we put a book or ability off limits, but I don't game with people who don't have the goal of making the game fun for everyone.

Call it a house rule....

The Exchange

Generally only at game-store games. I'll endure such foolishness in that context, since 1) running a game at a store is a sort of martyrdom - the hobby equivalent of missionary work, trying to bring new gamers into the hobby (not that that's likely if a Game-Breaking Jacktard sits down at the table, but I digress.) Besides, 2) when I go to my regular game, it makes me appreciate my (relatively) sane, (relatively) mature players.


Only once, and I'm still not sure whether it was because of a genuine rules misconception or actually trying.

Either way, he didn't like me pointing out that it was both obviously against the RAI of the ability and against a quote from Jason Buhlman.

So he left. Shut down the game he was running in the opposite week for our group too over it out of spite.

Other than that? Nah.


Rerednaw wrote:

Well first there is the debate over what "breaking the game is"

I don't consider strange concepts to be breaking, in fact if it's flavorful fluff I encourage it.

To be clear, I'm not talking about optimizing or building a strong PC. Optimizers can thrive in many campaigns. I'm talking about the kind of silliness that completely wrecks the versimilitude of the world and the fun of the players. Using simulacrum for free wishes, infinite gold through creating demiplanes, a psion who works out a way to get infinite power points (not sure this is possible in PF, but it was a big 3.5 thing). Etc. etc.

It goes beyond optimization, and into the realm of ruining the coherence of the campaign as well as in-game combat.

Really glad to hear that this appears to be mostly theoretical, from the replies here. :)


Rynjin wrote:

Only once, and I'm still not sure whether it was because of a genuine rules misconception or actually trying.

Either way, he didn't like me pointing out that it was both obviously against the RAI of the ability and against a quote from Jason Buhlman.

So he left. Shut down the game he was running in the opposite week for our group too over it out of spite.

Other than that? Nah.

What was the rule?


Vamptastic wrote:
Rynjin wrote:

Only once, and I'm still not sure whether it was because of a genuine rules misconception or actually trying.

Either way, he didn't like me pointing out that it was both obviously against the RAI of the ability and against a quote from Jason Buhlman.

So he left. Shut down the game he was running in the opposite week for our group too over it out of spite.

Other than that? Nah.

What was the rule?

"An Eidolon can Rend more than once a round if he has more than two claw attacks, because it doesn't have the one line at the end of the regular Rend description and Eidolons go by different rules."

I told him I'd look into it, but I didn't think it worked that way.

Turns out, no it did not.

He got mad because he couldn't Rend 2-3 times a round with his 4-6 claw attacks.


Ah yes the flurry of love taps Eidolon build.

I've seen this problem in more than one "summoner OP" thread. As you can imagine I said summoners weren't OP. And then came the illegal Eidolon builds. Good times.


I have only one player that does try to constantly break not only his character, but the rest of my player's characters. Thankfully, my players aren't interested in this, and often shut him down without me needing to step in.

Of course, this gets him upset and angry....typically at me, saying that I'm "forcing" them to not break their characters. Only once was he angry at another player....and it was over that player not wanting to make a Bag of Holding for the group.


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I can only really think of two instances, one of which includes me as the guilty party, and with the 'game breaking' being of a completely different nature.

In a 3.5 game several years back, I was playing a beguiler who was built well, but hardly optimized. However, the rest of the party was relatively new (with one exception), and the GM was using tactics to challenge new players. My character used clever spell combinations, creative applications of spells, and unorthodox tactics to more often than not shatter encounters. It wasn't quite my character curb stomping the game, but, as an example, we had an encounter where we were on a ship, being attacked on each side by pirates. My character took up defense of one side, alone, and with various illusions, suggestions, and fog-theme spells dropped most of the enemy crew into the water as they were boarding, while the rest of the party held the other side with conventional combat.

Another, more recent game (one that I was running) saw a player who really was a hardcore min-maxer, and he expected everyone else to play the game that way. Problem was twofold. First, this was the first game for every other player, so even if they wanted to, they didn't have the savvy to optimize like that. Second, they were WAY more into the story, and they started getting pretty tired of this guy going off alone and killing roomfulls of enemies, then getting so belligerent with NPCs that they pissed off everyone they met (y'know, because he's a stoic mysterious badass). I eventually had to have a talk with him about it, explaining that he wasn't really playing the same game as the rest of the guys at the table, and that I'd had compaints from every single player about how much less fun the game had become since he joined. I told him that he needed to rethink the approach he was taking to the game, because yes, what he was doing was allowed by the rules, but it was becoming extremely problematic to the survivability of the campaign. Didn't work out so well, and he left the group, but the game did get quite a bit more fun after that.


Marthkus wrote:

Ah yes the flurry of love taps Eidolon build.

I've seen this problem in more than one "summoner OP" thread. As you can imagine I said summoners weren't OP. And then came the illegal Eidolon builds. Good times.

I wouldn't call it a "Flurry of love taps". He did quite a solid bit of damage per hit (not as much as the two Barbarian/Fighters, but respectable) at a more consistent attack bonus and with double the attacks to make up for it.

He didn't like me saying I thought he was already quite powerful enough without me houseruling in things at all.


Pathfinder Adventure Path Subscriber

If you mean "break the game" as in seen a game dominated through RAW-legal means, no.

If you mean "break the game" as in derail the game through Alignment or "ruining your game is just what my character would do" nonsense, I've both seen that and done that. Oh, the lessons I've learned.


martinaj wrote:

I can only really think of two instances, one of which includes me as the guilty party, and with the 'game breaking' being of a completely different nature.

In a 3.5 game several years back, I was playing a beguiler who was built well, but hardly optimized.

My friend, with a bequiler you can NOT break a game.


Lord Pendragon wrote:

The forums are a great place to learn the little cracks in the game rules that allow for unbridled mayhem. Simulacrum silliness, for instance, along with various other tidbits.

It's made me wonder. In the games I've played, I've yet to encounter someone intentionally attempting to break the game. Even if a player might have enough rules mastery to do so, they tend to be more interested in having fun--both in and out of combat--rather than creating a scenario wherein the game breaks down.

Is it different for others, or are we all just spinning our wheels over extremely rare hypotheticals? :p

It depends on the player's level of knowledge. In our last Kingmaker, we had a player try to do that. He played a wizard with a ridiculously high save DC who was virtually unkillable too. However, there was no complex simulacrum-style abuse or what not because the player didn't know enough about the game to use that sort of cheese.

The DM was allowing anything, but the player was mainly using core stuff. They could probably have abused magic items that allow Persistent Spell on the cheap or abused Blood Money or some such, but that would require a higher level of system mastery. Of course, that would have made things worse.


DrDeth wrote:
martinaj wrote:

I can only really think of two instances, one of which includes me as the guilty party, and with the 'game breaking' being of a completely different nature.

In a 3.5 game several years back, I was playing a beguiler who was built well, but hardly optimized.

My friend, with a bequiler you can NOT break a game.

When your GM is smart enough and fair enough to have creatures react realisticly to illusions, but isn't otherwise used to dealing with them, I assure you that it is.


Min/max and game break are frowned upon in my games (heavy RP), but I've found that it mainly exists in the eye of the beholder. I copied the character of one of our local problems, then ran the character in HIS game. He accused ME of trying to break his game! Granted, I knew the rules better while he never really read the rules (running a L8 Rogue, didn't know he could get Rogue talents).


One time, I spoke with a guy at a party whose group (allegedly) habitually and repeatedly used high level builds to destroy the world, gods, reality, etc and I literally had nothing to say to him. It was like he wasn't speaking english to me. But in all honesty, although I come on the boards and sometimes think the world is falling apart around me, I have never personally seem someone try to break the game.


The calculus is simple: if you're a pain in the ass to GM for, you play less.

This might explain the volume of these posts on the forums, the last refuge of lonely players.


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@lincoln That seems closer to algebra. Calculus has more to do with observing the total inside of a function in a given area or the rate of change of such a function (or even the rate or the rate of change).

lol I did help out a friend once.

Breaking a homegame:
His GM had decided to start everyone at level 19, and handed out homemade magic items. He gave my friend a sword that started out just sealing souls inside of it. Then he made it fire. Then dimensional anchor. Then nobody could lift it but him. Then he could call it to himself at will.

The group got attacked by an ice deity and my friend pinned it to the ground with the fire blade through the face. The thing (obviously) couldn't lift it. Couldn't teleport or plane shift out. It sat there taking continuous damage while the team took full cover until the deity died. The GM refused to give him a divine level, instead giving it to the sword. Then my friend killed another deity with it.

At this point the GM decided he wanted to start a new game so he killed off the entire party, except he couldn't manage to kill my friend. So it was now a level 20 character with the uber sword walking around with a bunch of level 1's. So the GM makes it an eternal timestop so the sword can't move unless he calls it. My friend comes to me and tells me he's thinking about quitting the game because it was obvious the GM tpk'd the entire party on purpose 3 sessions after the campaign began.

So I tell him. put your hand to your forehead and call it facing you. He gets sucked into the sword. With the now even more uber sword (because he calls it into itself) and himself he rekills the deities. He repeats the process an infinite number of times because the sword is this huge timestop that he's wielding. So in a single instant he got an infinite number of divine and normal levels. At this point he declared himself the overdeity of the universe and quit the game.

Liberty's Edge

Not in my group but definitely at cons. In fact we like to guess what kind of cheese we will see this year.

Some of my favorites included the elder vampire paladin and the mage who could gate in a piece of the sun.


Never.


I have a friend and Co-GM who likes to make broken things, we worked together and made a gestalt character with something like 178000 attacks a round simply by using dimension door and some 3.5 shenanigans, after that we both stopped even playing with super broken stuff. No one else in my group really has the system mastery to make an effective character without help, let alone break the game so I don't really have any problems.

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