Looking for Help with a powergamer in a group of non-Powergamers


Advice


Hey guys, as the subject says, I'm looking for help dealing with a powergamer in a group of non-powergamers. To give a little background, I'm running Iron Gods with some old co-workers/friends and we (relatively) recently lost a player due to other commitments. As such, another ex-coworker, who I've played with before, though only for a few sessions, asked if he could join up. While I was tempted to say no (and feel as though I should have, simply due to the number of people I am comfortable running a game for), I ended up saying yes and gave him basic information on what to do to get his character started up and then had him roll his ability scores in front of me before our most recent session. Well, about 10 minutes into our said session, he already came into conflict with the rest of the group

Adventure Path plot spoiler:
involving them having just been called to the Scrapmaster's arena by scroll, which he took and tried to keep from the rest of the group.
I've noticed, based on the times I've seen this guy play that he likes to make himself the center of attention and what not, as well as optimize his character to try and make the rest of the party redundant (he's playing an alchemist, if that helps), and he's also gone over the budget I gave him for character creation, which may have been an accident, but still means I will need to audit his character sheet thoroughly.
Now, I know that if things are bad enough, I can ask that he leave, but I want to give him another session to see if things can still work out without ruining things for the rest of the group. I would greatly appreciate any advice anyone could give me. Thanks.
tl;dr Powergamer is making unnecessary conflict within party, what do I do (may kick if nothing else is feasible).


What specific conflicts are being solved, and as for going over budget that is a simple fix. Just tell him to drop ____ worth of loot.
If he has any other errors have him fix those also.

What is the rest of the party playing? I don't really see an alchemist as the class to take everyone's roles.


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I propose instead of calling him a powergamer, you call him what he is: a bad player. Powergamers make legal sheets. If they purposefully don't, that's a cheater. And there's nothing about powergaming that makes him withhold plot advancement from the party.

Step one: audit his sheet, make him fix it. If you have to audit it more than twice, lay down penalties.

Step two: tell him that it's a relaxed, cooperative game and that nobody's showing up to the table for intra-party conflict and intrigue. If he wants to conceal loot and/or plot devices, he can find himself another table.

Step three: if he insists on doing jerk things, just GM fiat around that, going so far as to say "no, you don't do that" if you have to. Later on, apologize to your players for your hamfistedness out of the bad player's presence.


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Some people have no idea how their actions affect others. It may have to be explained to him.


Cut your losses early. Tell him as politely as possible that his play style doesn't mesh well with the group.

Powergaming is one thing, but doing something directly in confrontation to the froup is another.

If you don't, you may be asking how to get rid of a player later.


wraithstrike wrote:

What specific conflicts are being solved, and as for going over budget that is a simple fix. Just tell him to drop ____ worth of loot.

If he has any other errors have him fix those also.

What is the rest of the party playing? I don't really see an alchemist as the class to take everyone's roles.

The rest of the group is a warpriest, a swashbuckler, a slayer (sniper archetype), an inquisitor, and a witch. And it's less that he's actively replacing so much as he's trying to.

As for the specific conflicts, it's that he's taken an already adversarial attitude towards the rest of the group.

Jaunt wrote:


I propose instead of calling him a powergamer, you call him what he is: a bad player. Powergamers make legal sheets. If they purposefully don't, that's a cheater. And there's nothing about powergaming that makes him withhold plot advancement from the party.

Step one: audit his sheet, make him fix it. If you have to audit it more than twice, lay down penalties.

Step two: tell him that it's a relaxed, cooperative game and that nobody's showing up to the table for intra-party conflict and intrigue. If he wants to conceal loot and/or plot devices, he can find himself another table.

Step three: if he insists on doing jerk things, just GM fiat around that, going so far as to say "no, you don't do that" if you have to. Later on, apologize to your players for your hamfistedness out of the bad player's presence.

Yeah, I'm hoping that he did just make some genuine mistakes and is willing to remedy them easily. If he isn't, I might have to just cut my losses and ask him to leave....

Thanks for the advice guys.


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He needs to figure out (in character) why he is staying with the party. The party, in turn, needs to figure out (in character) why they keep him around. If those two things can't be done, it's time to have a sit down and come to an agreement on next steps. Good luck!


I would give more than 1 chance, but it doesn't sound promising. The only real chance you have it to have a conversation with him. In as non-confrontational manner as possible, say something along the lines of,

"I think you might have been expecting a different sort of game than what we are playing.
These are new guys whose builds and action choices are not super powerful. That is ok, I'll just scale back the encounters. I know you have enough system mastery to do so, but please don't try to show them up too much.
Also, they are currently a cooperative heroic group. The intraparty conflict is more of an advanced playstyle. We can see if they are interested in that later."


cannen144 wrote:
wraithstrike wrote:

What specific conflicts are being solved, and as for going over budget that is a simple fix. Just tell him to drop ____ worth of loot.

If he has any other errors have him fix those also.

What is the rest of the party playing? I don't really see an alchemist as the class to take everyone's roles.

The rest of the group is a warpriest, a swashbuckler, a slayer (sniper archetype), an inquisitor, and a witch. And it's less that he's actively replacing so much as he's trying to.

As for the specific conflicts, it's that he's taken an already adversarial attitude towards the rest of the group.

This guy is going to fail miserably. Other than trying to hide items how is he being adversarial? I had a player trying to claim everything in a recent game, and he used no strategy so I(fellow player) became content to let him get himself killed.

Grand Lodge

Pathfinder Companion Subscriber

If you audit, then do everyone.

Trust me, it is worth it.


blackbloodtroll wrote:

If you audit, then do everyone.

Trust me, it is worth it.

Yeah, I've been keeping hold of everyone's character sheets between games, mostly because people asked me to, so I've been looking over everything and plan on taking some time to make sure that everyone is up to date on everything and has all their information correct. My biggest concern is that he's using a digital character sheet, so I can't always be sure I have to most up to date copy.

wraithstrike wrote:
This guy is going to fail miserably. Other than trying to hide items how is he being adversarial?

He's also argued with a few players about how their characters aren't optimal and how they should play their characters differently.


The easiest way to handle this is that the copy of the character you have is the official copy. If he makes changes in the character have him send you a copy for your records before the game. I use hero labs and require that all characters be entered in my computer. This makes it easy to plan games because I can look up what the characters have when I am planning my adventures. I take time both before and after the game to update my copy so that it is the latest. If someone wants to change thing between games they can send me the information and I can adjust the character.

Since I use hero labs to run combat it is important that I have a current copy of the characters. This also gives me complete access to everything the characters have, or can do. The players come up with enough surprises during the game even with having a copy of the character.


Powergamer doesn't really seem like the right word for the problems. Fundamentally it seems that this player doesn't mesh with your groups play style.

If you wish to successfully integrate this player into your game, you need to honestly tell him the expectations you have. Things like that the characters will cooperate and not conceal information from each other, that players should not criticize other players role playing choices and that working together and having fun as a team are the goals of your campaign. Then ask if he is still interested, and if so, let him know that you will we monitoring, and if in your opinion he doesn't seem to fit in with the atmosphere you are trying to establish, you will have to ask him to leave the game.

Try and let him know that you understand that there are different ways to play the game and have fun, but you and your group want this one. Also let him know that you realize it is difficult to change playing style, and that if he can't fit in with your group it won't change your regards and friendship with him.


Talk to him about the arguing outside of the session. Try something like "have you thought about the consequences of telling the other players that they aren't optimized or should do this or that?" rather than being too confrontational. That is - if you want to keep him around. You already have five players, so I don't know why you'd want a sixth at all. Four is the magic number for a group. You need to drop one more in my opnion. lol

That said, there is nothing wrong with powergaming as everyone has their own styles, but he doesn't need to try to run the table and bully the other players.


Brother Fen wrote:

You already have five players, so I don't know why you'd want a sixth at all. Four is the magic number for a group. You need to drop one more in my opinion. lol

That said, there is nothing wrong with powergaming as everyone has their own styles, but he doesn't need to try to run the table and bully the other players.

Honestly, the reason I said yes is because I feel bad about excluding people, occasionally to my own detriment....But yeah, I should have just explained that I wasn't really comfortable adding another player. Hindsight's 20/20, ya know?

And my problem is less with the powergaming in and of itself, as much as it is with the fact that it's coming at the expense of the other players.

Scarab Sages

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Yeah the main issue is that he is a spotlight hog, which is a major problem and will cause you to lose your other players and/or cause the group to break up if not resolved. At least this is my own personal experience. This type of player usually makes a character that is as close to self-reliant as possible so he doesn't need anyone else's help, which is where the powergaming/min-max part comes in.

I have had two spotlight hogs, both of whom I sat down and talked about why this behavior was a problem at the table. One responded well and toned it down, along the way instead teaming up with another person as a "dynamic duo" within the party, which satisfied his need for cool experiences. The other unfortunately had to be asked to leave.

By contrast I have a rabid powergamer in my current group, but he uses his powers for good, ie-to help the party without trampling everyone elses fun time. We all love him and get along great with him, despite the fact that most of the other people in our game are horrible at crunch. I never have issues with him, nor any type of conflict with the less experienced character designers.

Definitely a talk is in order. As far as how big the group is, high maintenance players drastically impact the smoothness of play. If you have a bunch of folks who want to make things go smoothly, you can actually run 1-2 players higher than the ideal, whereas 1 difficult player requires several players worth of attention from the GM.

Sczarni

You need to teach that guy to share, communicate and act with a group. Unfortunately, it might be long and painful process plus, some people are just to selfish for this style of play. You might never change them.

Adam

Grand Lodge

Pathfinder Companion Subscriber

I have dealt with spotlight hogs.

Instead of putting it forth, that he needs to tone it down, ask him if he can help you to make sure everyone gets time in the spotlight.

Something like: "You are a more experienced player, and good at getting time in the spotlight. I was wondering if you can give me a hand making sure everyone gets their time in the spotlight. If you have any advice, or think you can push things in-game to move the spotlight around, so everyone eventually gets a time to shine, that would be awesome."

This puts your concerns out in the open, but in a positive light. It empowers the player, and keeps him aware of who is taking time in the spotlight. You also create a bond, and make him feel needed. Now he is rewarded for sharing, and any time another player gets more spotlight than him, you don't have to say "I'm sorry", but rather, "Thanks man".


I'd be careful. A lot of advice on here regarding positive spins on confrontations with players sound transparent and may be received as passive aggressive. Just be straightforward with the player, but be sure you are clear on what your issues with him are. The term "powergamer" means nothing is loaded term that encompasses a huge spectrum of behavior from perfectly fine to terrible. Pick out specific incidents and speak to him about those directly and clearly; don't be passive-aggressive and don't diminish his play style, rather find a way to incorporate it with the rest of your group.

This is the harder but better course in the long run.


So quick update.

After having audited the players character sheet, he has gone significantly over the budget which I allocated to him for character creation. I plan on discussing the issue with him before our next session, so I'll update after then as well.

Figure I'd give this update if it impacts any advice you guys have for me.


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cannen144 wrote:
He's also argued with a few players about how their characters aren't optimal and how they should play their characters differently.

That right there is grounds for getting kicked from my group. Offering advice when asked for it is fine. Pointing out mistakes as long as it is in a polite respectful manner is fine. But that's just a jerk move.

Grand Lodge

Pathfinder Companion Subscriber
Triphoppenskip wrote:
cannen144 wrote:
He's also argued with a few players about how their characters aren't optimal and how they should play their characters differently.
That right there is grounds for getting kicked from my group. Offering advice when asked for it is fine. Pointing out mistakes as long as it is in a polite respectful manner is fine. But that's just a jerk move.

Well, you don't know how he approached it. He could be genuinely trying to help.

If "how they play", is tactics, then that should be fine. If it's how they RP, then that could be a problem.

If a fellow player built their PC to be good at something, and he suggesting there is a better way to get what they want, then that should be fine.

I have many fellow players, that now actually come to me, when they are having a hard time having the numbers meet the concept.

So, the devil is in the details here, as far as how one should react.

Grand Lodge

I'm saying this as a generalization:

1: Sometimes groups hate when a new player joins them and does ANYTHING to take any of the spotlight from the originators of the group. I've even seen DMs completely ignore the newer players effort to aid the group. Kinda sucks to be the new guy at the table no one even pays attention too and acts like their character did nothing to help.

2: There is a difference between helping someone pick better mechanical options and Strategy ideas and Telling someone how to play their character and what they do during their roleplay.

3: Powergamers don't play lower tier classes. The idea that we would play a non-full caster is preposterous to say the least. Ultimate power, always, Is our motto. Until you feel he has picked up the rule book and beat you senseless with it you're probably not dealing with a power gamer.

My advice is 2 fold:

1: Audit his character for errors...mathematics has room for errors as we are all human.

2: Tell him it is best to spend the rest of this campaign playing nice with the group so they don't think your a t~&* of a player. Next campaign if you want to play a bastard of a character then try it out...but not the first night you meet new people that is basic expectations of any new player.


blackbloodtroll wrote:
Triphoppenskip wrote:
cannen144 wrote:
He's also argued with a few players about how their characters aren't optimal and how they should play their characters differently.
That right there is grounds for getting kicked from my group. Offering advice when asked for it is fine. Pointing out mistakes as long as it is in a polite respectful manner is fine. But that's just a jerk move.

Well, you don't know how he approached it. He could be genuinely trying to help.

If "how they play", is tactics, then that should be fine. If it's how they RP, then that could be a problem.

If a fellow player built their PC to be good at something, and he suggesting there is a better way to get what they want, then that should be fine.

I have many fellow players, that now actually come to me, when they are having a hard time having the numbers meet the concept.

So, the devil is in the details here, as far as how one should react.

This is very true.

That said, I will say that there's a difference between a player coming to you and you "arguing" with a player. If Timmy comes to me for advice on what feat to take, I can find something for him. But I'm not going to tell Timmy that he's wrong for taking Dodge-- he'll get one gentle statement along the lines of "Hey, you know, instead of Dodge you could take X". If he likes Dodge, that's the end of that conversation. No arguments; if that's happening then we've most past the giving advice stage.

Grand Lodge

Pathfinder Companion Subscriber

Then again, I have had a fellow player who would completely lose his sh*t, when I pointed out actual problems, like too little skill points spent, too many spells, or feats he did not meet the prerequisites for.

I could only compromise, and he allowed me to let him know when something was wrong, but not what it was, as he "could handle it himself".

Scarab Sages

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The problem with the "power-gamer" mentality as I'm aware of it is that it's convinced of its own "objective" supremacy (as evidenced by your problem player telling others how to think and what to do). It's counterproductive to apply the "everyone has their own play style" defense to what appears to be a kind of cognitive imperialism out to impose its own ordered dogma on gaming. Respecting a playstyle, like all respect, must be reciprocal, and what I'm seeing in the wider picture here is a group mentality that specifically does not play well with others.


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Stealing and/or hiding treasure to me is the biggest red flag. That kind of behavior just needs to stop. Tell him that directly and don't permit the canned response that he is "just playing his character". If you allow that, the rest of your group will probably quit.

Scarab Sages

That's one thing I've never understood: Why would anyone sabotage their own adventure in such an obvious dead-end fashion? That's just plain stupid.

Grand Lodge

Pathfinder Companion Subscriber
Westerner wrote:
Stealing and/or hiding treasure to me is the biggest red flag. That kind of behavior just needs to stop. Tell him that directly and don't permit the canned response that he is "just playing his character". If you allow that, the rest of your group will probably quit.

Don't forget giving away treasure.

I killed the last PC that did that.

Community & Digital Content Director

Removed a post. If you're not providing actual advice, leave it out of the Advice forum.

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