How to deal with OP player


Advice

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Playing Pathfinder and the party is level 11. We had some new players come in and one guys is playing a wizard who is ending every encounter before they begin with spells that he is legally allowed to use through the use of abilities, feats, etc, etc.

For example tonight I ran an encounter where two CR11 demons attacked the party in a room. The wizard (Who always act's first, by stacking his abilities, feats, familiars, etc to get around a 30 on initiative) cast a spell that would be a level 9 spell (He cast as level 6 bard, using something with racial background Samsaran) and made both bow and get the helpless condition where the party then just coup de grace them and the encounter was over before round one finished and anyone but three people got to act. *Oh he also over came their SR of 21 with his 40 that he rolled because of abilities too*

Without going into the details of what he was usiing (All back checked and legit), how do I tell him that the way he is playing is causing everyone else to have no fun and for the game to end early?

The other players approached me about his use of these spells and abilities that seem overpowered as they can come no where near, merrily building their PC's from the book casually and not power building. If I also up the enemies to deal with him, they would slay the rest of the party in seconds!

I can't think of how to either tell him to hold back and let others act, up the encounters but not kill everyone else in seconds, or just write a ton more game knowing combat will take less than a sentence to get through.

Any ideas?


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Speak with him like a reasonable adult.

As the thread goes on someone will most likely discover that he's either outright cheating or suggest something that will easily shut him down, but nothing will be as painless or effective as simply speaking with the player and establishing the expectations of your game and your group. Besides, playing the Pathfinder arms race gets old quickly.


Pathfinder Lost Omens Subscriber

I've played numerous campaigns with power gamers of varying skill, but one in particular was a notorious douche. He had this triple multiclass craft magic arms and armor one-level-dip-for-power beast of a PC that after looting the bodies of dead PCs on numerous times ended up with a WBL of about 6 times what he should have had, dominating every single encounter. The DM and I had to counter-powergame the keep it balanced, it became exhausting, and the DM actually ended up begging me to kill him in game.

Long story short, a Gate spell directly into Abaddon is not how you want your games to go. Settle this QUICKLY, out of game, before it gets out of hand.


Johnnycat93 wrote:

Speak with him like a reasonable adult.

As the thread goes on someone will most likely discover that he's either outright cheating or suggest something that will easily shut him down, but nothing will be as painless or effective as simply speaking with the player and establishing the expectations of your game and your group. Besides, playing the Pathfinder arms race gets old quickly.

Yes I hate the arms race! I do want to talk to him aside, I just need to know what to say and not make him think I want to scale him back too much or nerf him unfairly. I am sure as well he may be cheating on somethings.


realize this is why you don't allow everything.


Virellius wrote:

I've played numerous campaigns with power gamers of varying skill, but one in particular was a notorious douche. He had this triple multiclass craft magic arms and armor one-level-dip-for-power beast of a PC that after looting the bodies of dead PCs on numerous times ended up with a WBL of about 6 times what he should have had, dominating every single encounter. The DM and I had to counter-powergame the keep it balanced, it became exhausting, and the DM actually ended up begging me to kill him in game.

Long story short, a Gate spell directly into Abaddon is not how you want your games to go. Settle this QUICKLY, out of game, before it gets out of hand.

Thank you, yes I don't want to match him over and over and spend my week working on stats and ways to counter what I think he will do either. That just sucks.


Chess Pwn wrote:
realize this is why you don't allow everything.

Ya I know, but for the others they liked this because they could expand from the generic classes and things to add in some flavor and fun stuff. But yes it only takes one to abuse it.


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Stormydove wrote:
Johnnycat93 wrote:

Speak with him like a reasonable adult.

As the thread goes on someone will most likely discover that he's either outright cheating or suggest something that will easily shut him down, but nothing will be as painless or effective as simply speaking with the player and establishing the expectations of your game and your group. Besides, playing the Pathfinder arms race gets old quickly.

Yes I hate the arms race! I do want to talk to him aside, I just need to know what to say and not make him think I want to scale him back too much or nerf him unfairly. I am sure as well he may be cheating on somethings.

"Your character does not fit in with this game right now, maybe try [this], or you can even make a new character if you like."

Work with him to create a character that works with your game, don't put him off and tell him to figure it out. Even if he is bitter about losing his wizard, people become more attached to something that is worked on collaboratively.

Also, he's good at the game so ask him to explain things to you before the game starts, so you can understand what he's doing. This will help create the sense of you two as equals (because a GM who is a control freak is easy to resent). If anything, you can learn something from his that will help your own system mastery. There's also nothing wrong with having a strong character and that's something you'll need to accept approaching this. The trick is just making sure whatever character is still restrained within the group, which can be playstyle just as much as mechanics.


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Pathfinder Lost Omens Subscriber

Just remember: Outsiders are aware of things your PCs do. Maybe a priest of Nethys or some Aeon thinks he's abusing magic a bit too much on the destruction level and needs to balance it with some more helpful magic and decides to try and destroy his spellbook to make him start over?


Johnnycat93 wrote:
Stormydove wrote:
Johnnycat93 wrote:

Speak with him like a reasonable adult.

As the thread goes on someone will most likely discover that he's either outright cheating or suggest something that will easily shut him down, but nothing will be as painless or effective as simply speaking with the player and establishing the expectations of your game and your group. Besides, playing the Pathfinder arms race gets old quickly.

Yes I hate the arms race! I do want to talk to him aside, I just need to know what to say and not make him think I want to scale him back too much or nerf him unfairly. I am sure as well he may be cheating on somethings.

"Your character does not fit in with this game right now, maybe try [this], or you can even make a new character if you like."

Work with him to create a character that works with your game, don't put him off and tell him to figure it out. Even if he is bitter about losing his wizard, people become more attached to something that is worked on collaboratively.

Also, he's good at the game so ask him to explain things to you before the game starts, so you can understand what he's doing. This will help create the sense of you two as equals (because a GM who is a control freak is easy to resent). If anything, you can learn something from his that will help your own system mastery. There's also nothing wrong with having a strong character and that's something you'll need to accept approaching this. The trick is just making sure whatever character is still restrained within the group, which can be playstyle just as much as mechanics.

Very good points I guess I will have to talk to him and point out these things and see how it goes. He did originally make the character on his own so I guess working together on a new one might help him see somethings from my point of view as well.

I do get him to explain his stuff to me, but so far each week it's been new stuff after new stuff. I just need to know where it's all coming from.

Thanks, good advice.


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Stormydove wrote:
I am sure as well he may be cheating on somethings.

Not that this problem is really a rules issue, but that samsaran racial trait you mentioned, mystic past life, is widely believed to be incapable of adding spells to a spell list that already has them (like your player did with overwhelming presence).


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Stormydove wrote:
I do get him to explain his stuff to me, but so far each week it's been new stuff after new stuff. I just need to know where it's all coming from.

Ask him to provide links to material that he is using or bring a printout reference to the table.


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Stormydove wrote:
Without going into the details of what he was usiing (All back checked and legit), how do I tell him that the way he is playing is causing everyone else to have no fun and for the game to end early?

Firstly, tell him exactly that.

"Hi.

You made an amazing character that is entirely within the rules that we allowed, has amazing synergy between feats and racial abilities, and that you obviously put a lot of effort into. I appreciate that you went to this much effort in preparation to join our game.

Problem is, while your character is a great exercise of rules synergy, it is spectacularly unfun to have at the table. Don't get me wrong, your enjoyment of the game does matter, but as the GM my job is to make sure everyone is having fun at the table - myself included, lest I burnout and can the whole thing. And I can't do that with your character at the table; I can't scale things up to be a challenge to you without destroying the rest of the party, and they can't have fun at a game where their characters are largely irrelevant.

So again, I appreciate the effort you went to, but you've seen the rest of the party, and I need you to make a character who can be an equal member of the team. This will take more work and a lot of restraint on your part - and I'm sorry about that - but in the end it's the only thing that will work."

Avoid an arms race.

Avoid a complex background check - his build is probably illegal, but getting into Build Audits From Hell will just devour your free time while being fun for no one.

Just focus on getting him, as a player, to respect the style and power level of the current PC party and make something that can contribute, but doesn't outshine the rest of the party by an order of magnitude. It's not hard, it just requires restraint.


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To start I would meet with the player outside of the game to discuss this. You might even tell them this is what you are meeting about so as to not blindside them and not put them on the defensive right away.

Talk to him. Explain exactly what you did in your post above. The rest of the group is having trouble with your PC and its power level compared to them and it is having a negative effect on the game for them and you.
Work with him to create a PC that works for the story you are telling.
Anything goes options can have large negative impacts on the game.
The main reason here is that he just might go an create another PC in the same "power level" and not solve the problem.
Another option would be to ask him what PC create and you create it and then talk about how it differs from one another.
Or simply create a PC for the player and if he does not like it then he may not be aright for your group.

As you said the PC is legit, but ask him how it is and be sure there is no 3rd party stuff. He is paying for every thing such as familiars (food housing, upkeep, and any more you might require), spell components (repeated casting of some spells require pricey components or components that hard hard to find ie deamon blood or devil blood, etc).

Are you using any house rules that are allowing said PC to be unbalanced.
Do not be afraid to just say No to something.

After all is said and done, it may be that he is not the right fit for your story and group. Which is ok for both of you. New blood is good and can improve play but it can also cause problems.

The last option might be have the new player redesign all of the other players PC's but IMHO this generally does not fix things and causes problems down the line.

Also how is he in the role-play aspect of the game? Does he fir with the rest of the group or is he to far towards one side or the other? (ie rules fluff does not matter or rules fluff is important) which is vastly different that just being in character or not.

Good Luck and what every happens I hope it beings back the fun.
MDC


Raynulf wrote:
Stormydove wrote:
Without going into the details of what he was usiing (All back checked and legit), how do I tell him that the way he is playing is causing everyone else to have no fun and for the game to end early?

Firstly, tell him exactly that.

"Hi.

You made an amazing character that is entirely within the rules that we allowed, has amazing synergy between feats and racial abilities, and that you obviously put a lot of effort into. I appreciate that you went to this much effort in preparation to join our game.

Problem is, while your character is a great exercise of rules synergy, it is spectacularly unfun to have at the table. Don't get me wrong, your enjoyment of the game does matter, but as the GM my job is to make sure everyone is having fun at the table - myself included, lest I burnout and can the whole thing. And I can't do that with your character at the table; I can't scale things up to be a challenge to you without destroying the rest of the party, and they can't have fun at a game where their characters are largely irrelevant.

So again, I appreciate the effort you went to, but you've seen the rest of the party, and I need you to make a character who can be an equal member of the team. This will take more work and a lot of restraint on your part - and I'm sorry about that - but in the end it's the only thing that will work."

Avoid an arms race.

Avoid a complex background check - his build is probably illegal, but getting into Build Audits From Hell will just devour your free time while being fun for no one.

Just focus on getting him, as a player, to respect the style and power level of the current PC party and make something that can contribute, but doesn't outshine the rest of the party by an order of magnitude. It's not hard, it just requires restraint.

Yes I do not want to be fact checking all day or trying to out play him with builds at all. I do want to make him feel he didn't do anything wrong and that he made a great character, but ya that it doesn't fit in with the casual way all the PC's are playing.

Your right on about not outshining the other players (They do feel that way) and that would be wonderful if I can get him to act as say support or apply restraint, like knowing "Hey I can end this if it get's out of control, but I don't need to shut it down round one". That might be something where he see's it as a race or see's a need to avoid all possible damage or whatever.

I do agree with all of you that I have to bring it up (Which sucks to do) about his character being different than the others and maybe show him why it's affecting everyone. I know I have to do something and shouldn't let it get out of hand, I think the best advice everyone says so far is to get him to re make a character or like you said do more support to the party so they can shine with the advantage of his spells. hmmmmmmm


Avoron wrote:
Stormydove wrote:
I am sure as well he may be cheating on somethings.
Not that this problem is really a rules issue, but that samsaran racial trait you mentioned, mystic past life, is widely believed to be incapable of adding spells to a spell list that already has them (like your player did with overwhelming presence).

That is exactly what happened

Silver Crusade

Gonna reiterate what's already been said just because it bears repeating; just tell them their character's too strong, tone it down, offer them a rebuild, or anything like that. I've been that player before, and while it's slightly annoying to lose your fun toy, it's better for everyone to enjoy themselves.


If someone is good with system mastery and getting out of balance, challenge them to do something cool with a character that isn't necessarily all that smart from an optimization standpoint.

For example, being an Eldritch Knight isn't the best power-option for a Wizard optimizing spells, but a Wizard able to wield a blade like a champion is a major new dimension in depth and coolness. With the new Prestigious Spellcaster feat, being an EK doesn't even need to cost more than 1 spellcasting level (or don't tell them that?); but if they've got the ability to make lethal sword-attacks as well as cast potent spells, that may encourage them to tone-down the spellcasting to be a really badass swordsman as well. You could challenge them to pull a deadly Eldritch Knight rebuild where they end up fighting with the team after a little support magic.


It's not only a problem with samsarans but a regular problem with save or lose spells. As treantmonk said in his god wizard guide, SoL spells make you either lose your round or win the encounter, which might not be fun for everybody.

The issue here is the fact that he has a high DC and high spell penetration from what you're saying. However even without the samsaran shenanigan he could have cast mass suggestion and ended the fight has well. Same goes at lower levels with color spray, sleep, hold monster and the like.

Now what could his DC possibly be ? He might have 26 int (with +4 item) so 8 bonus +2 focus+6 spell Level is 26. Spell penetration would be 13+d20 with double spell penetration. I don't know of any way before spell mastery to get more than 40 on a SR roll.

So against a CR11 demon with 22 SR and let's say 11 Will, there is 40% chance of the spell not bypassing SR and 30% of getting the will save. That's 42% chance of the spell working on one mob and 16% on both.

Also, if they had been immune to mind-affecting, that would have been solved.

Liberty's Edge

There are many ways of granting immunity to mind effecting magic. since the character is notorious for using mind control, enemies know to prepare for the one trick pony....


I would adjust mystic past lives to not allow early access to spells - if the spell is on his list, use spell level on his list. Let him rechoose the spells that were affected by the change.

Then talk to the player about not dominating encounters.

I have played in campaigns where my character could cast a dazing fireball and shut down the opposing side almost every encounter. I chose not to, for one because it's boring to do the same trick in every battle and two to not hog the spotlight.

So instead, in a lot of battles, I cast haste as my first action.

Scarab Sages

nicholas storm wrote:

I would adjust mystic past lives to not allow early access to spells - if the spell is on his list, use spell level on his list. Let him rechoose the spells that were affected by the change.

Then talk to the player about not dominating encounters.

I have played in campaigns where my character could cast a dazing fireball and shut down the opposing side almost every encounter. I chose not to, for one because it's boring to do the same trick in every battle and two to not hog the spotlight.

So instead, in a lot of battles, I cast haste as my first action.

This, pretty much. There is a reason samsaran is considered very powerful for casters. Their alternate racial, mystic past life needs some tweeking. I'd suggest telling the player, besides the suggestion above, that you need to review his spell selections and will either veto or modify the spell level of them.


All the advice about talking to the player is good, but I would also suggest getting him to help you with your game. It sounds like his system mastery is way above yours, so why not tap into that a little. Many power gamers simply like to write up powerful character and see what they can do. As long as he is the type that can keep out of game knowledge separate from charter knowledge it should not be a problem. This would also soften having to downgrade his character. Instead of him being a problem player he could be a big asset to the game beyond what his character can contribute.


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Some good advice here already, and kudos for you for taking the mature approach of trying to rein in this situation for the greater good of your group, without alienating the player in question..

I've said before that optimization is neither good nor bad on its own -- instead, it's all about having the right level of optimization for your group, to ensure you don't have one or two OP characters, and then a bunch of others feeling like sidekicks. So I think you're doing the right thing to try to bring the outlier back in line with the relative level of group optimization.

Apart from talking to the player respectfully about these things, I also like BadBird's suggestion of trying to get him to play a build which isn't normally super optimal, or Mysterious Stranger's idea of focusing his optimization talents towards helping you up your system mastery. But those things alone won't stop his powergaming -- he really needs to understand and accept that this style of play isn't a good fit for your group and that he can't build characters in the way he might normally prefer.

One cautionary note: some players can't seem to get away from optimizing, even when they initially intend to, so be on the lookout for behaviours like agreeing to tone it down then just trotting out a *different* build which also ends up being OP, or choosing a single sub-optimal 'flavour' feat or option to show just how commttied they are to not powergaming... and then using the rest of their feats and abilities to keep doing what they were doing before.

Also, there is a chance the player won't react well when you speak to him about this, and may become hostile to the idea of being forced to 'play down' to the rest of the group (I've seen this before). I'd recommend being prepared for that, and to remain firm, knowing that you're not being unfair to him, but are instead looking out for the best interests of the group as a whole. Ultimately, if the player is unwilling to play in a manner consistent with the larger group, he might be better off seeking a different group to play with.

Lastly, I don't endorse the idea of having him continue to play the same character and trying to get him to play 'safety net' for the group (ie holding back for a few rounds so the other characters get to do stuff, then stepping in), as I don;t really think it solves the under;lying issue. While the other characters might not catch on right away, I expect it will eventually become obvious that your wizard still remains capable of singlehandedly ending encounters. Then you're back to a situation where your other players feel like sidekicks.

Hope this helps, and best of luck!


Shouldn't people want to raise the other members of the party up to his level rather than punishing the Wizard for being good?


JAMRenaissance wrote:
Shouldn't people want to raise the other members of the party up to his level rather than punishing the Wizard for being good?

From what i read from the first post, they are all at the same level.

From what I do as a dm, I tend to have a steady stream of new people with like 2 people who have gotten used to the game, so I end up rewarding build a Character and not a set of unbeatable numbers to make sure that things stay balanced. This has lead to rule's lawyering from them, and I just remind them of the rules they don't like. Though not every group is like that.


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JAMRenaissance wrote:
Shouldn't people want to raise the other members of the party up to his level rather than punishing the Wizard for being good?

The "problem" player is a highly optimized wizard at double digit levels.

"raising the other members" amounts to "tell the rest of the party to roll full casters".

Grand Lodge

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Just popping in to remind everyone that E6 fixes most of these problems. Carry on. :)


You've got plenty of good advice here about talking to the player out of game. In the interest of variety I'll suggest some more direct "in game" stuff like making house rules. Getting access to the "OP" spell 5-6 levels early seems to me like the sort of thing Paizo would be likely to fix via FAQ or errata if they ever got around to it, so I wouldn't be shy about house ruling it away with something like, "No early access to spells except when explicitly granted as a bonus spell on a class list" (like specific spells granted to Sorcerers/Oracles by their bloodlines/mysteries)

Looking into the roll of 40 for overcoming SR might make sense too. That seems like an awfully high roll. Even if it is truly "legal" maybe it shouldn't be. I wonder if the player might consider it hilarious that there's something allowed by the rules which is totally game breaking. If so maybe he'd enjoy coming up with house rules to stop himself and explaining to everybody the clever ways he could have broken the game in.

@JAMRenaissance - I doubt the OP/GM would be interested in that since it almost certainly means a lot of extra work during game prep coming up with carefully crafted encounters to challenge the super optimized party.


Snowblind wrote:
JAMRenaissance wrote:
Shouldn't people want to raise the other members of the party up to his level rather than punishing the Wizard for being good?

The "problem" player is a highly optimized wizard at double digit levels.

"raising the other members" amounts to "tell the rest of the party to roll full casters".

I basically agree with you. Whenever I say that there is a disparity between martial characters and casters I'm told to raise the martials.

So, shouldn't the solution here be to optimize the martials?

By telling the guy to not use the tools available, you're basically creating a set of house rules to deal with the disparity. I agree with the idea, but it flies in the face of the philosophy that there's no disparity based on access to magic.

As an answer from a different direction, is this really a "problem"? I mean, the details of this particular situation are kind of tough, but is it really that bad? Putting a bunch of mooks in between the wizard and the demons may have eaten up all of the targets for Overwhelming Presence; he'd still only be able to affect six targets after all. Similarly, non-combat encounters may challenge this guy as well.

I played in a Pathfinder game that was core only as a Monk in a group with a Sorcerer, two Wizards (one an Eldricth Knight), a Cleric, and two Rogues. I optimized the Monk for AC, and the GM noted that around 8th level that the Monk was really not going to be hit. Anything that could threaten the Monk sliced through the rest of the group like sliced bread, and this was a concern for the GM. Eventually, my response became "Ummm... so, basically, I'm distracting the big physical things while I play Sir Whiffs A Lot and the other guys stay alive long enough to do cool things. And the problem is?"

So yes, this encounter is ending poorly, but can you tweak things to modify the type of encounter in order to provide a challenge to all?

Devilkiller wrote:
@JAMRenaissance - I doubt the OP/GM would be interested in that since it almost certainly means a lot of extra work during game prep coming up with carefully crafted encounters to challenge the super optimized party.

Hey... the more mastery the players have, the more potential hurdles they will have. That may just be par for the course. I agree... it's a lot of work.


This is very much a player issue. A lot of examples of "one character is hogging the spotlight" happen because one player has a better optimized character they know how to play, and you can level things out by helping the other characters build more effective characters.

This isn't really possible when the person hogging the spotlight is playing a well optimized version of what is quite probably the single strongest thing in the game.

It's too late to fix this, but when you have a game and one player is a wily veteran and the other players are relatively new, it's important that the oldbie either plays something that's fun but not especially powerful, or understands that it's their responsibility to the hobby to act as an ambassador for the game so their fun should enhance rather than reduce the fun other people are having.

But this is really a problem you can only have by having a talk like mature adults about this. Remember, the point of the game is not winning, getting loot/xp/whatever, the point is to get together with other people and cooperate to have a good time telling a story.


Not that I condone this, but if he is totally against fixing this situation in an adult matter, make encounters that challenge HIS character to the extent of his capabilities. Yeah, it will be a handful of CR above his level but it will challenge him. Now, I know what yer thinking.... "Won't that kill everyone else?"

Yeppers. Probably him too when his chaff is gone and he is the only target. Might get the point across about The God Child being on par with the Party.

I hope the Adult way works but in my history, those with great power seldom give it up willingly.

Good luck and I'm rooting for you.

YMMV


Talking with him is my usual solution. I do agree with the theory that a party can be at any level of optimization and have a good time so long as everybody is near the same level. For the last year and a half I have been playing under a DM that uses item drops to balance out the party. IE: if the fighter is weaker than everyone else he drops a new sword with a big +X modifier. If the wizard is weakest(hypothetical situation only) he might drop a spellbook with some cool homebrew spells.


There is also the issue that the party is level 11. The reason a lot of APs end not-long after the double digit levels is that in the teenage levels some classes (notably full casters) become absurd. So the best solution might be to try to wrap the campaign up to an ending soonish, and then have the talk "make your fun constructive to other people's fun, not destructive" when you're setting up the next game with new characters.

Even in open ended campaigns, generally "how long the players get to play high level characters" can be proportional to how "nice" they play with those high level characters.

Silver Crusade

Pathfinder Companion, Starfinder Roleplaying Game Subscriber; Pathfinder Roleplaying Game Superscriber

If you feel like doing a 'quick audit' of his character, I would suggest looking for things that by the rules shouldn't stack. Paizo seems to often use rules text about things not stacking with a similar option in order to avoid this kind of situation.

In terms of talking to the character, I would suggest rather than a rebuild, ask the character to find something else to do for a round or two at the start of the battle. That way he still gets his character that feels like it can rule the world, but everyone else gets to play, too. Haste and greater invisibility are fun spells in this case, as well as enlarge person.


Pathfinder Adventure, Adventure Path Subscriber

This is hard.

Honestly, how much is enough? When you play a class that has save-or-die abilities, how reliable should they be to be "balanced" or "fun" or "not overshadowing"? Should the player re-build his wizard to only have have a 50/50 chance of overcoming SR? Should the player re-build his wizard so it's Initiative is only +2? Should the player re-build his wizard so its save DCs will be met 50% of the time?

I absolutely get the problem. I understand. But the solution isn't so easy. "Talk to him" isn't enough. What is talked about needs to include solutions, not just illuminating the problem.

I my groups, we tend to try to optimize fairly regularly. Only thing is, we try to create synergy. So my PC will be very good at setting up someone else's PC to do something awesome. "Overpowered" is much less offensive when it's putting the win in someone else's lap. But that requires players working together with their builds. And that's just OUR solution to this problem.

Good luck.


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This should be a learning opportunity for you, as are all problems at the gaming table.

First, you audit characters before they hit the table and check in with players about their decisions as they level up.

Second, a great way to keep the power gamers in check and balance YOUR PARTICULAR TABLE'S preferences is to limit the books available for players to use and then allow players to petition for exceptions. Err on the side of rule of cool and campaign flavor given how your table plays.

Third, because your table plays less intensely in character build and tactics, you could probably stand to brush up on encounter design to make things more challenging. This will allow your players to feel pushed to survive and get better at the tactical minis side of the game in response.

Fourth, the next time you have this kind of disparity, have the power gamer specialize in buffing the other characters. It's highly satisfying to use system mastery to boost the rest of the team, like being a den mother. I speak from experience that feeling responsible for the rest of the party is a good feeling for power gamers to have.

Fifth, power gamed characters have a weak point. Be aware of what they are and periodically press them hard on that weak point. A lot of times, power games play a game of chicken with their DM, betting that they won't have to make a save-or-die on Fortitude or Will, for example. Make them start to see the utility in balanced characters without being a jerk about it.

Sixth, if a player likes to nova their abilities, put them on a clock so that they can't do the 15 minute day. Make them husband their resources and save them for the boss battle.

Seventh, high level pathfinder play is rocket tag. It may be that he's just designed his character to do well with that. If you don't like rocket tag style play, perhaps try to play E6 or E8.


Power gamed as in super hyper-focused on only one thing have weaknesses you can target easily.

Power gamed as in super optimized character that is being awesome at something have of course weaker points, but many time those typical "weaknesses" are one of the better in the party.

I have barbs and fighters that have a will save around the same level of an equal level cleric. Higher than battle clerics, lower than caster clerics.
My friend has a sorcerer that has Fort as their best save with Ref and Will like 1 point lower than it, all of those saves are also in the realm of good.


JAMRenaissance wrote:
Shouldn't people want to raise the other members of the party up to his level rather than punishing the Wizard for being good?

No, for three reasons:

1) The new player does not decide the tone and style of the existing game he is joining.
2) The wizard character, as described, is likely running on some very creative interpretations of rules.
3) Because telling 3-4 people to rebuild their existing characters and "study the rules more" to try and keep up with said Punpunian Wizard is more grief than asking the Punpunian player to come back with something a bit more appropriate to the table he is joining.

For much the same reason, asking said player to help you build NPCs/adversaries has the downside that even if they are pretty good at separating player/character knowledge, said adversaries may well simply demolish the rest of the party. Personally, I wouldn't go that route.

System mastery isn't actually an end goal of playing tabletop games. Fun is.


Raynulf wrote:
JAMRenaissance wrote:
Shouldn't people want to raise the other members of the party up to his level rather than punishing the Wizard for being good?

No, for three reasons:

1) The new player does not decide the tone and style of the existing game he is joining.
2) The wizard character, as described, is likely running on some very creative interpretations of rules.
3) Because telling 3-4 people to rebuild their existing characters and "study the rules more" to try and keep up with said Punpunian Wizard is more grief than asking the Punpunian player to come back with something a bit more appropriate to the table he is joining.

For much the same reason, asking said player to help you build NPCs/adversaries has the downside that even if they are pretty good at separating player/character knowledge, said adversaries may well simply demolish the rest of the party. Personally, I wouldn't go that route.

System mastery isn't actually an end goal of playing tabletop games. Fun is.

The comment is a reference to the idea that, when you bring up that wizards and full casters as a whole are on a whole different level than other characters and can stand to be pulled back, the refrain is always "Leave the Wizard alone! Raise everyone else!"

OK. This is it in practice. The response, in practice, is to limit the Wizard. You are asking the player to do the limiting, but it is still limiting the character.

I do believe the style of challenge has to shift; one or two big bad guys will be a difficulty for a character like this.


The "raise everybody else, leave the powerful character alone" in the context of a specific game really only works when the powerful character is simply a well-optimized version of something that is not almost certainly the most powerful thing in the game.

When groups are upset that the monk is too powerful, or the swashbuckler is too powerful, or even that the alchemist is too powerful, things can be done to bring the rest of the party up to the level of the player who has optimized better (or that group is likely misunderstanding rules, say allowing the swashbuckler to too many swift/immediate actions).

If the Wizard is too powerful, and it's preventing everybody else from having fun, other than extreme GM fiat or "asking the player to tune it down" there's not a lot to do, particularly at the double digit levels.


JAMRenaissance wrote:

The comment is a reference to the idea that, when you bring up that wizards and full casters as a whole are on a whole different level than other characters and can stand to be pulled back, the refrain is always "Leave the Wizard alone! Raise everyone else!"

OK. This is it in practice. The response, in practice, is to limit the Wizard. You are asking the player to do the limiting, but it is still limiting the character.

I do believe the style of challenge has to shift; one or two big bad guys will be a difficulty for a character like this.

The issue is the disparity (and the fact that getting a minimum of +9 to spell resistance checks by 11th level should be virtually impossible and smacks of BS to me) between the characters. Batman wizards can have that effect at most tables, but batman wizards employing rules cheese of dubious odor is several dozen steps too far.

The issue isn't about challenging the wizard, because the wizard player doesn't want a challenge. Players don't build Punpunian characters looking for a challenge, they build them because A) They can and B) They want to win/earn great personal glory. Focusing on challenging the wizard is going to frustrate everyone: The GM who finds prep time devoured by the arms race, the Punpunian player who doesn't want a challenge, and the other players who find themselves getting progressively less of the GM's attention.

I wouldn't "limit" the Punpunian wizard. I'd suggest removing him and getting the player to make something else, and preferably something that is easily explained, sourced from primary materials (CRB, ultimate combat etc) and vetted by GM prior to play. Because trusting players to always come to the table with legal and balanced characters doesn't happen.

I've seen someone make an "honest mistake" and come to a game with a Savage Species ogre, who was simultaneously an orc barbarian; stacking both 1 'level' of each per character level, and the racial bonuses of both. Needless to say, they dominated the game by virtue of being able to simply destroy everything with overwhelming damage. In a group of players who rarely looked past the PHB, and often built their characters in 15 minutes at the start of Session 1. Suggesting everyone "try to raise their game" would be both unwelcome and farcical, because it often isn't possible, and it isn't fun for the rest of the group; they don't want to powergame, and shouldn't be forced to.

Bah. Hate posting on a time limit. Rambling and semicoherent.

Anyway. Heading out. Peace and good luck.


Raynulf wrote:
JAMRenaissance wrote:

The comment is a reference to the idea that, when you bring up that wizards and full casters as a whole are on a whole different level than other characters and can stand to be pulled back, the refrain is always "Leave the Wizard alone! Raise everyone else!"

OK. This is it in practice. The response, in practice, is to limit the Wizard. You are asking the player to do the limiting, but it is still limiting the character.

I do believe the style of challenge has to shift; one or two big bad guys will be a difficulty for a character like this.

The issue is the disparity (and the fact that getting a minimum of +9 to spell resistance checks by 11th level should be virtually impossible and smacks of BS to me) between the characters. Batman wizards can have that effect at most tables, but batman wizards employing rules cheese of dubious odor is several dozen steps too far.

The issue isn't about challenging the wizard, because the wizard player doesn't want a challenge. Players don't build Punpunian characters looking for a challenge, they build them because A) They can and B) They want to win/earn great personal glory. Focusing on challenging the wizard is going to frustrate everyone: The GM who finds prep time devoured by the arms race, the Punpunian player who doesn't want a challenge, and the other players who find themselves getting progressively less of the GM's attention.

I wouldn't "limit" the Punpunian wizard. I'd suggest removing him and getting the player to make something else, and preferably something that is easily explained, sourced from primary materials (CRB, ultimate combat etc) and vetted by GM prior to play. Because trusting players to always come to the table with legal and balanced characters doesn't happen.

I've seen someone make an "honest mistake" and come to a game with a Savage Species ogre, who was simultaneously an orc barbarian; stacking both 1 'level' of each per character level, and the racial bonuses of...

FWIW, I thought your post was fine and entirely coherent!

The point about trust is an important one, and I agree that there are a number of concerning elements about this particular build that suggest a willingness to abuse the rules. The spell resistance check is an obvious one, but for me it is using the Samsaran Mystic Life feature to backdoor in Overwhelming Presence that really stands out.

If the player's first ever build in your game features that sort of trick (which, while likely valid according to the Rules-as-Written, is going to be considered highly cheesy by most), I think you'd be well-advised to keep a close eye out for further shenanigans from this player. It may be, as Raynulf says, that the player really doesn't want a challenge, and so they may either be openly hostile to efforts to 'rein them in', or may instead seek to more subtly subvert your efforts to do so.

On the other hand, it may be that they approach things in a mature way and self-edit to fall in line with relative group optimization. I'm a bit cynical, and think it's probably unlikely, but I think it is worth giving the player a chance.


JAMRenaissance wrote:
The comment is a reference to the idea that, when you bring up that wizards and full casters as a whole are on a whole different level than other characters and can stand to be pulled back, the refrain is always "Leave the Wizard alone! Raise everyone else!"

The time this is used is discussing the problems with C/MD and how the fix we want the game to implement is making fighters useful enough at high levels. Since it's something we wish was in the game, it's not.

So either the GM needs to make a houserule book of how to make other classes useful, or not try to raise the other classes to the wizard's level.

Also, some of this is sounding broken/misapplied/and exploitative. Now while CRB is full of stuff to exploit for wizards, games should agree on how the are dealing or implementing them.


The Steel Refrain wrote:


The point about trust is an important one, and I agree that there are a number of concerning elements about this particular build that suggest a willingness to abuse the rules. The spell resistance check is an obvious one, but for me it is using the Samsaran Mystic Life feature to backdoor in Overwhelming Presence that really stands out.

We can't check stats without knowing the build, but I'm hesitant to blame this one solely on Overwhelming Presence. If all of the plusses check out, why would't Greater Illusion of Trickery, Greater Claim Identity, Gaes-Quest, Cloak of Dreams, Phobia, or Dominate Person have the same effect or close enough to the effect to not make a difference? If the player does remove Overwhelming Presense, are we also going to say he or she can't take any other "yeah, this fight is pretty much over..." spells?

That's not sarcasm. If the idea is to tell the player to move the line in the sand, how far do you tell him or her to go?


Mysterious Stranger wrote:

All the advice about talking to the player is good, but I would also suggest getting him to help you with your game. It sounds like his system mastery is way above yours, so why not tap into that a little. Many power gamers simply like to write up powerful character and see what they can do. As long as he is the type that can keep out of game knowledge separate from charter knowledge it should not be a problem. This would also soften having to downgrade his character. Instead of him being a problem player he could be a big asset to the game beyond what his character can contribute.

I agree and disagree.

In that a it really depends on the others of the group, GM and players. Some might have more fun with "power options" and some might not.
It is almost always good to hear others opinions and incites but then you/GM/Player have to decide on if it is right for your group, story and play style.

I know some who dislike power gamer's intensely and everything about how the approach the game and I know power gamer's that feel the same way about those who do not take the same path as they do. And I know quite a few more in the middle of the pack who can not have a problem in general but if things get to out of balance have a huge problem.

In short IMHO the "right answer" to your problem is very group and player dependent and the personalities involved among'st the group.

Also IMHO, power gaming is not always system mastery but can just be someone who is proficient in spotting rule exploits just as the saying is not true that if you are a power gamer you cannot have a high competency with the system.

Good Luck.
MDC


The Steel Refrain wrote:

FWIW, I thought your post was fine and entirely coherent!

The point about trust is an important one, and I agree that there are a number of concerning elements about this particular build that suggest a willingness to abuse the rules. The spell resistance check is an obvious one, but for me it is using the Samsaran Mystic Life feature to backdoor in Overwhelming Presence that really stands out.

Thanks!

And I should clarify: As a GM I don't check every character sheet in immense detail, especially not if I know and trust the player. With a new player though, I generally want to see the numbers and sources. Sometimes it's because they've made some honest mistakes (like the person who used 32pt gen for Pathfinder), sometimes its because they aren't sure what they're doing and made an unworkable mess and need a few pointers, and extremely rarely it's because they've put something together that is flat-out wrong and abusive.

But it's easier to just have that requirement of "Send me your character sheets before play, and whenever you level". The simple fact that everyone knows I am going to look - and it is unilateral and impartial - generally keeps most on the straight and narrow even if they might otherwise be tempted.

That said; If you haven't been auditing character sheets to date, it may well just be easier to have the away-from-the-table talk and avoid turning it all passive aggressive.


Wallsingham wrote:

Not that I condone this, but if he is totally against fixing this situation in an adult matter, make encounters that challenge HIS character to the extent of his capabilities. Yeah, it will be a handful of CR above his level but it will challenge him. Now, I know what yer thinking.... "Won't that kill everyone else?"

Yeppers. Probably him too when his chaff is gone and he is the only target. Might get the point across about The God Child being on par with the Party.

I hope the Adult way works but in my history, those with great power seldom give it up willingly.

Good luck and I'm rooting for you.

YMMV

Throw some Golems at them. Attack them with an Arcane Archer who Imbues his Marker Dye Arrows with Antimagic Field.


You need to audit his character with a fine toothed comb. A lot of this sounds like BS. If you have access to Hero Lab, I'd suggest using it to audit his build and make sure it's legal.


Pathfinder Adventure Path Subscriber

Already beaten to my suggestions.
+1 to:
#1 Talk to him. Pathfinder is a group game, fun for everyone, not for one. If he's the only one having fun, then perhaps he isn't a fit for the group.
#2 I'd also avoid auditville or the arms race. Even a Core-only wizard at level 11 is extremely tough.
#3 That said...if you're running say 7 days no sleep i.e. no chance to rest to recharge spells...or waves of lesser mooks to suck up the spells, or red herrings that he novas on thinking they are boss fights...there are always ways to rebalance. Just don't rub his nose in it.

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