How do you treat Different kinds of players like Power-Gamers?


Gamer Life General Discussion


Im interested in both what people considers Power-Gamers and what your personal experiences with them are.

I imagine Munchkins being countered by having powerful common enemies or plot related handicaps to keep their characters from simply marching through an enemies.

I imagine Game Masters work with them in the story but also incorporate elements so its not all about fighting so other players can roleplay and explore the world being built.


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Not everyone has the same definition of power gamers and munchkins.
To me they are differently. A power gamer will make a very powerful character, but he will do it using the rules as intended.

A munchkin will either cheat or try to use a very loose interpretation of the rules.

I dont allow for the "letter of the law" interpretation to override intent.

As for how I run a game it depends on the table. I am not going to single anyone out. The worst case scenario for me is to have power gamers, and casual gamers together. I would prefer to have all power gamers. As for RP, I run AP's, and the players determine how much RP goes on.


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I just hang out with my friends and we play make-believe until we're done having fun or it gets too late, whichever comes first.


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A power gamer aims to live their power fantasies within the game. I mean this in a neutral way, and actually I'd rather count myself as such a player. Now a munchkin is a more extreme version, sacrificing pretty much anything (clear character concept, other players' fun, GM's fun etc.) in favor of power. In my experience, 'munchkin' is used purely negative, while 'power gamer' is used either in a negative or neutral way.

My group is mixed, some people focus on powergaming, others on roleplay. That makes creating a fun campaign more difficult, but not impossible - since everyone is fine with disappearing in the background for a while and since I try to deliver to everyone. Pure combat and pure roleplay sessions usually result in some negative feedback, so I try to mix in higher frequency. For example evil monsters might want to talk first, while bandits prey upon you during your RP heavy city visit.

Note that power gamers don't necessarily want combat - they want success. So throwing unbeatable creatures at them should be a rare thing, while cowing an NPC into handing over something is much appreciated, even with no combat involved.


I just tell people I don't allow power gaming.

A power gamer and a munchkin, to me, are the same thing.

A power gamer/munchkin is someone who focuses on mechanical perfection. Usually this means a character who is laser focused. They're the type who will dump stat to 7 just to eek out one more +1 to their casting stat, or their combat stat.

They'll trivialize any challenge and feel no shame in doing so. If they're a combatant expect them to hit an average enemy on a 4 or less. If they're a skill monkey, they automatically succeed at everything. It doesn't matter that it ruins the GMs fun.

They'll take mechanically perfect spells, feats, and traits even if they make no sense. Usually they treat archetypes, feats, and classes as frameworks that are completely devoid of any in-universe fluff. The power gamer/munchkin cares only about power.

Is it bad? Yes and no. Some GMs enjoy running for this kind of player. Some don't. Thus, when I run I ask those players to not do so and if they cannot to seek a different GM.

Sovereign Court

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I have a tolerance limit for any type of gamer. If the player fits under the limit, we have a great time. If they are over the limit, I'll politely excuse myself from the table. I don't disparage them for being a different type of gamer (calling them a munchkin) I just dont have time to bend over backwards to make disparate playstyles fit at the table.


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Pathfinder Adventure, Adventure Path Subscriber
SheepishEidolon wrote:

A power gamer aims to live their power fantasies within the game. I mean this in a neutral way, and actually I'd rather count myself as such a player. Now a munchkin is a more extreme version, sacrificing pretty much anything (clear character concept, other players' fun, GM's fun etc.) in favor of power. In my experience, 'munchkin' is used purely negative, while 'power gamer' is used either in a negative or neutral way.

My group is mixed, some people focus on powergaming, others on roleplay. That makes creating a fun campaign more difficult, but not impossible - since everyone is fine with disappearing in the background for a while and since I try to deliver to everyone. Pure combat and pure roleplay sessions usually result in some negative feedback, so I try to mix in higher frequency. For example evil monsters might want to talk first, while bandits prey upon you during your RP heavy city visit.

Note that power gamers don't necessarily want combat - they want success. So throwing unbeatable creatures at them should be a rare thing, while cowing an NPC into handing over something is much appreciated, even with no combat involved.

Mostly I'd agree with this, though some of the wording a bit different. To build on it...

As a confessed power-gamer, I'm pretty much just tired of losing. I don't mind missing. I don't mind getting hit. I don't mind failing saves. I don't mind my abilities failing. But after years and years of playing RPGs, I'm kind of averse to character deaths, especially ones where they're effectively permanent (ie. before we can afford to be brought back to life without DM fiat).

So I'm going to deliberately form statblocks that are... engineered. I'm not going to walk around with a crappy Will save so I'm easily owned. I'm not going to dump Con so I'm a glass canon. I'm not going to neglect my defenses nor my offense though I won't go overboard on either.

Bottom line, as a power-gamer, I would prefer to succeed at an encounter (combat or social), I will tolerate having to run away from or find another way to handle an encounter (combat or social), but I will not tolerate TPKs that are my fault because I decided to take Improved Basketweaving and Chocolate Flavored Pockets as feats instead of Iron Will or Toughness.

How to deal with me as a player: don't up the ante as if I'm the enemy. You don't - as a DM - need to beat me. Challenge me if you'd like. Make me work for my success if you want. But don't feel that you need to make things harder because I haven't lost or died often enough. If you do... it's an arms-race and I'll feel pressure to optimize more.

Final comment, I don't power-game at the expense of roleplay. I invest in characters. They are developed people with idiosyncrasies, backstories, and recognizable personalities. THAT is why I dislike excessive character death.


The line between Power-Gamer and Munchkin is personal perception. I dont cheat, but I want to use everything available to me within said rules. Would I be a Munchkin if I started using 3rd party material?

I know I am a powergamer as I think first and foremost of what benefit I will receive when making stats, planning out feats, and so on. Its a matter of gaining more than you lose.

To me its whether you design story or design your character as a tool. I think I would fit better in Battletech than Hamlet.

I like meeting others so I can discuss things. Its just fun exchanging ideas for story, characters, and equipment. Its just exciting making a better character with some help. I havent met what can generally be considered a true Munchkin or Roleplayer as the Pathfinder Society doesnt reward either.


I am a powergamer because I think primarily about mechanics. I am a munchkin because I embrace cheese. I am neither because I do not focus on being the best.


Pathfinder Adventure Path Subscriber

This as a difficult topic which profits from more differentiation.
Sheepish Eidolon and Anguish described some very good points already.

Probably the terms power gamer and munchkin aren´t enough to analyze a lot of things i witnessed going on and i would make the following categories:

-People with high system mastery.
-People with low system mastery.
-People with more IC roleplay.
-People with less IC roleplay.
-People misunderstanding rules or using possibly wrong interpretations on purpose.

The wish to live out power fantasies and get some form of ego boost from "owning" the game is the most problematic thing probably.
While on one hand everyone has that to a point, some persons have it more.
As soon as those persons leave the norm frame of the group with what they are doing, there´s a problem.
This can happen in different ways, be it mechanicaly or purely roleplay wise, or worst case cheating.

I´ve seen some people building rules wonky glass cannons with CON 10 trying to take the story out of the GMs hands and then going ballistic when things didn´t go the way they wanted them too.

Mixing people with high system mastery and low system mastery is a different thing though, nothing to do with intended powergaming or munchkinning, but is often perceived that way. You get this in any game though which has rules, when some people read and understand the rules while some do not or have more experience in the game than others.


What about other kinds of players? Ive been in scenarios where you would need a Min-Max or even a Munchkin build to survive like fighting Barbarians that immediately Rage or Ghouls with Paralyze to one-shot you. Bringing in a Bard with negotiation skills doesnt seem that useful.

Have you ever had or been a Killer GM that tries to murder your players' characters every session?

Have you ever been a GM an railroaded people to fulfill what you wanted to happen?

Are you a roleplayer and been alienated by people that just want to kill and loot?


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If you know your character's hit bonus, save DC, AC, and planned level progression, but not their name or the name of anyone else in the party, chances are I don't want you at the table.


i dont get why being a power gamer is bad. more power = more can be tossed at you and the more you can do. you can push your self to the limit and see what you can accomplice. wait that sounds like any wanna be hero or villain.


My interpretation is:

power-gaming is smiled upon and fruitful, it takes a character concept and builds it out mechanically in a way that is beneficial to the character, to the team, and to the game.

munchkining is frowned upon the way mary-sueing is frowned upon in RP. What irks me about it is the lack of character concept. Munchkins are built out mechanically to eek out every bit of benefit, with the presumption that 'my character is the best, and MUST be the best'. In a role-playing game, munchkins have no role to play, because they assume all the roles. They are the hero of every situation, and CAN'T lose. This is beneficial to no one at the table, it will suck the life out of the game.

All players must be able to still take enjoyment from the game even when things 'don't go their way'. I had a personal #1 rule when playing another game that was almost purely RP, that the story was the higher purpose of the game, that all decisions must be made in ultimate benefit to the story, so that everyone can walk away from any situation and say, 'wow that was good.'

What attracts me to Pathfinder is that it is actually mechanics-heavy, but the rules and mechanics are there to serve the story, they serve as inspiration to the story. I actually love scrolling through the hundred -thousand feats because I love reading the names, which give me an idea of whether they'd fit my character concept or not, before reading the actual mechanic, and then decide whether that mechanic is more valuable compared to others i'm considering.

So, for me, Munchkins and Mary-Sue's are lumped into the same sort of category, because they are designed with a mindset that the game is there to serve them.

Liberty's Edge

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I treat my players like people, mostly. People who I know and whose individual quirks and preferences I can thus work with.

In terms of 'powergamers'...I try and keep the game balanced. This involves banning certain broken mechanical options (for everyone, not just certain people) and helping people with less optimization experience make mechanically effective characters (doable with just about any concept).

That's really all that's necessary. Very few people who 'powergame' actually care if all the other PCs are equally optimal (the few who do are probably a*$!@!!s), and so if you help less experienced players make characters in the same ballpark of power as the 'powergamer' everyone gets to be happy. I'm all for everyone being happy.

Players who throw tantrums, try and hog the spotlight, or refuse to roleplay are an unrelated problem to mechanical optimization and are not asked to return to the game (not that this has been a common occurrence...I'm not sure it's ever happened in one of my games, actually).


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Uh... by trying to make the game fun for them?


There are a number of combinations that theoretically break the game. Leadership is probably #1. Mechanically it would be pretty easy to create a Cohort NPC that specializes in what you dont. Start as a Paladin/Bard/Sorcerer/bloodrager and have a Cohort specializing in crafting tools.

I know there are different kinds of Superheroes who have some kind of technical assistant. Most notably "Microchip" from the Punisher series makes the equipment Frank Castle uses.

One person using that maybe. What if Everyone used it to just have a helper? Someone told me a story of using a Blink Dog to sell items long-distance and someone that ended up making the character extremely rich.

Economy balance is a factor. If someone uses ways to earn more than what is expected, how is that dealt with? Offscreen hostile company takeover? Have someone kill your employees? Let it happen so long as someone doesnt become a Billionaire?

I find it interesting to think of a Bard so good that he/she/it can bribe, blackmail, or offer jobs to people an an alternative to fighting.

Grand Lodge

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Pathfinder Adventure, Rulebook Subscriber; Pathfinder Battles Case Subscriber

I mostly stop trying to challenge them and throw suboptimal enemies at them. Either they enjoy being completely unchallenged or they tone down their power gaming. Or leave.

Paizo Employee Organized Play Lead Developer

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ChaosTicket wrote:
What about other kinds of players? Ive been in scenarios where you would need a Min-Max or even a Munchkin build to survive like fighting Barbarians that immediately Rage or Ghouls with Paralyze to one-shot you. Bringing in a Bard with negotiation skills doesnt seem that useful.

For me, some of the best combats are the ones we get to avoid because a negotiator PC convinced the prospective enemies not to fight (and perhaps even to aid us against other enemies). Just as bringing a pure negotiator to a unavoidable fight isn't necessarily useful, so too is a pure combatant less than helpful in an extensive diplomatic encounter (e.g. a party where the PCs need to split up and talk to as many potential allies as possible).

Also, it's possible to create negotiator PCs who are power-gamers and/or munchkins. It might be a little more rare (just by nature of play style), but it's out there.

Quote:
Have you ever had or been a Killer GM that tries to murder your players' characters every session?

Sure have on both sides. I think a lot of players and GMs go through an adversarial period early in the hobby, and many transition to a less adversarial style of play. Note, I say transition, not mature or graduate; Although I personally dislike being a killer GM and playing alongside them, I recognize that so long as participants are having fun and respecting their campaigns' premises, people enjoy the game in a variety of ways.

Quote:
Have you ever been a GM an railroaded people to fulfill what you wanted to happen?

I've railroaded players more than a few times, though the most egregious and numerous of those tie back to the lawless campaigns of my youth. The occasional railroad's a valuable tool, but I try to avoid them or at least camouflage the figurative tracks for everyone's enjoyment.

Quote:
Are you a roleplayer and been alienated by people that just want to kill and loot?

Yes. The clash of different play styles is one of the biggest table conflicts in the industry, and many RPGs try to address those issues in their respective GM chapters (Pathfinder RPG Gamemastery Guide does so).

A big part of resolving the conflict is taking turns, and it's true for both the GM and the PCs. Ideally, a GM is presenting an adventure that gives everyone (both characters and players) a chance to shine. That might mean the adventure involves a diplomatic meeting before the team rushes off to punch orcs before then arriving in a town to perform an investigation. That said, players have to take a lead in taking turns, too, recognizing that the story isn't just about their character. The more one person overshadows everyone else in terms of time in the spotlight, mechanical superiority, or style of play, the more likely I've found there is to be conflict.

When all else fails, these conflicts mean a change in the group's structure. It could mean changing the GM or starting a new story. It could instead mean that some people leave. It could also mean that the offending player's asked to leave. We play this game to have fun, and if someone's consistently threatening that goal, they might lose their group.


I prefer to treat the party as one unit and let the players sort the powergaming out between themselves.


I'm fortunate in that, while my players become increasing powerful as they advance in levels, I don't have any actual powergamers.


roguerouge wrote:
Uh... by trying to make the game fun for them?

Yes.

Powergamers are not munchkins. SheepishEidolon explained them well.

SheepishEidolon wrote:
A power gamer aims to live their power fantasies within the game. I mean this in a neutral way, and actually I'd rather count myself as such a player. Now a munchkin is a more extreme version, sacrificing pretty much anything (clear character concept, other players' fun, GM's fun etc.) in favor of power. In my experience, 'munchkin' is used purely negative, while 'power gamer' is used either in a negative or neutral way.

In my Jade Regent campaign, one player's favorite activity in the game was defeating monsters in combat. He designed a fighter with the two-handed archetype and optimized the character in powergamer fashion.

Therefore, I threw monsters at him and he chopped them to bits. He loved it. The magus and samurai characters joined him in combat, and the ninja, sorcerer, and oracle characters protected innocents and watched out for more trouble. They were also roleplaying investigative or political activities that the fighter player did not care about. Everyone had fun, even though the fighter dominated combat.

In contrast, my wife's campaign once had a munchkin player. He designed a big-game hunter with the Druid class, which seemed an odd choice. He (uselessly) claimed the privileges of fame, though his character sheet had nothing that gave him fame or privilege. He did not read his spells. I remember when my archer was dealing with an owlbear for a safe distance when the druid cast Sleet Storm on it. He thought it was a damage spell, but it gave the owlbear concealment instead. He did not listen during other player's turns, so the GM had to give him a recap at the beginning of his turn. After his bad decisions led to the death of the leader of the party, he declared his druid the obvious new leader. Instead, the rest of us voted him and his character out of the group.

Liberty's Edge

Pathfinder Adventure Path, Lost Omens, Starfinder Roleplaying Game Subscriber
quibblemuch wrote:
I just hang out with my friends and we play make-believe until we're done having fun or it gets too late, whichever comes first.

as long as there not cheating i let them have fun with there character


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How many times do I have to explain this?

When "I" do it, it is "Power Gaming"

When "You" do it, it is being a "Munchkin"

Grand Lodge RPG Superstar 2015 Top 32, RPG Superstar 2012 Top 32

ChaosTicket wrote:
...so its not all about fighting so other players can roleplay and explore the world being built.

Here's the unfortunate truth:

Pathfinder, D&D, and to some extent the fantasy RPG genre as a whole is specifically designed to provide gameplay experiences ranging from "kill monsters and loot the dungeon" to "fight through the Legions of Doom to defeat the dragon/lich/demon/god". Games in the D&D tradition are about resource management and tactical combat, testing player skill toward the goal of overcoming a series of progressively scaling encounters. Is it any wonder, then, that a player would build their character to be good at doing exactly that? It's literally what the game tells them to do.

So if you want the game to be "not all about fighting so other players can roleplay and explore the world being built", then it would make sense to look for a game that's actually designed that way. Unfortunately, the D&D model of fantasy roleplaying is pretty ubiquitous in the genre. If only some intrepid new designer would come along and make a game that's a perfect fit for what you're looking for...

OH WAIT THAT'S ME

Look for updates in the new year on a game that'll be right up your alley, my friend!


Jiggy wrote:
ChaosTicket wrote:
...so its not all about fighting so other players can roleplay and explore the world being built.

Here's the unfortunate truth:

Pathfinder, D&D, and to some extent the fantasy RPG genre as a whole is specifically designed to provide gameplay experiences ranging from "kill monsters and loot the dungeon" to "fight through the Legions of Doom to defeat the dragon/lich/demon/god". Games in the D&D tradition are about resource management and tactical combat, testing player skill toward the goal of overcoming a series of progressively scaling encounters. Is it any wonder, then, that a player would build their character to be good at doing exactly that? It's literally what the game tells them to do.

So if you want the game to be "not all about fighting so other players can roleplay and explore the world being built", then it would make sense to look for a game that's actually designed that way. Unfortunately, the D&D model of fantasy roleplaying is pretty ubiquitous in the genre. If only some intrepid new designer would come along and make a game that's a perfect fit for what you're looking for...

OH WAIT THAT'S ME

Look for updates in the new year on a game that'll be right up your alley, my friend!

I just dont buy this.


I can understand being more concerned with one's personal abilities than the world or story if the world is bland and generic and the story is close to non-existent. If there is a vibrant, interesting world, if there are colorful NPCs to interact with, if one's choices and actions have some sort of lasting impact on what happens in the game, then there is no excuse to ignore 'fluff' in favor of a combat simulator.

As for powergaming, it's a relative thing: everything that is less powerful than I like/can handle is weak and unoptimized, everything more powerful is OP and stupid.


I've mentioned it before, but to me, these terms fit on a scale of annoyance.

At the bottom is the optimizer, who makes effective characters, but does so with any concept. So he'll pick a concept for flavour, and then decide how to make it an effective one.

Above that is the power gamer, who defaults to the powerful options. He can still make a meaningful character in a roleplay sense, but he tends to focus on the build first.

Above him is the min-maxer. This is where the character is ignored in favour of the build, and they'll make incoherent choices without consideration of what makes sense purely to make a more powerful character. Dumping stats to bare minimums to eke out a few more points, or dipping in multiple classes without any concern for a story reason.
(Sometimes, you get the incompetent min-maxers, who focus on making these super-powerful characters, but either read character building guides without really understanding them, or think more damage>all, and so make characters that may be powerful in one way, but have so many glaring weaknesses that they're easily dealt with. Or just don't impress as much as they should.)

Then there's the Munchkin, the worst. These guys not only try to make the most powerful character they can, they do so through rules lawyering (The classic definition, where they attempt to 'argue' a vague rule in their favour.) or even cheating. And they often have a habit of deliberately wanting to ruin everyone else's fun, or at least have no concern for everyone else around the table.


If I may present a different idea, it occurs to me that all ways for all players may be resolved by creating a system of karmic balance in the game. Taking into account the way folks think and act *in* the game and beyond the character sheet. Reward power gamer and munchkin alike for playing to their idiom flawlessly. Meet fudge with fudge and cheese with cheese. Meet stats with stats and challenge the way a given player likes to play by pushing the limits of what he or she wants to do right back at him. Works with meek players, too. Feed them with "you get what you give" mechanics and plot. All players see what happens to the others and often feel by proxy. Further, I feel this mindset pushes a teamwork ideal that I love to see in my games. Everyone gets celery!

Admittedly, this type of game is subjective and hard for a GM to pull off, but art mimics life and the other way 'round. It comes naturally when a little attention is devoted to making it so. Experienced storytellers should have no problem. Poetic justice and license is the name of the game.


I run character driven campaigns and I like PCs to feel like actual characters. I don't have any problems with anyone optimizing or even power gaming, as long as the character feels right.

When I don't feel that is provided, or i see a player trying to break or bend the rules in their favor, i pull them aside and try to have a talk with them.

Now this isn't usually the case, owing largely to 5e, which i currently run exlusively, being not as minmaxable as other systems, but if a PC is notably more powerful than expected, i adjust other players to feel functional by awarding items that will conveniently help them more than anyone else. With the increased power level in the party of course i adjust encounter power upwards as well.


I think the problem is that a lot of people don't understand that some classes are just more powerful. The vast majority of Druids are just going to be more powerful than even a tricked out Barbarian. So a player who understands that thinks, "It's a fighter, I can't break anything," and the GM is getting mad.


this is part an old topic and ongoing discussion as GMs learn and mature.

There are varying roles that people can play or that their play can fit into. It's just trying to group things and name them as people like to organize things to manage and predict outcomes.

DnD encompasses many styles of play. Old RAW is somewhat simplistic on the reward side and it is easier to adjudicate martial successes.

People play this advanced & adult version of "Let's Pretend" for various reasons.

People are social animals or eusocial. This impacts a lot of what we do. DnD games are social activities. GMs and Players should treat others reasonably while playing together.

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