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rubycona
2009-05-23, 03:17 AM
Hey, all.

I'm having a lot of trouble with one of my players, and I was hoping for some advice. It's a very casual game... just 4 friends coming together to hang out, eat snacks, and be amused. Game has more laughter than dice.

However, a major part of having fun in D&D is having good combat. And my problem is, one of the characters is a powergamer... the fact that he's very alone in that is the problem. I could handle a full team of powergamers... but the other two pick feats, abilities, etc, based on how roleplay-ish or fun or interesting or weird they are.

As a result, that one character is way, way out of balance with the other two. I've already tried pulling him aside and asking him to go easy on the min-maxing, and have already DM vetoed a number of his more broken discoveries, but even with that, he's brilliant at mixing non-broken abilities in very broken ways, and he's starting to chafe very uncomfortably at the additional restrictions I've put on him. I'm trying my best to be fair, I do want him to have fun, too, but combat has gotten way out of hand. I can't, to the best of my admittedly limited ability, craft any scenario beyond something like a siege that would last more than 2-3 rounds... it'd either kill the party in that time, or be killed it/themselves. Or at least, have the other two die. Which is not at all my intention... I'm trying Very hard to avoid a TPK (and the powergamer doesn't count towards that, I'm fine with killing him... though I fear it, from the descriptions of other characters he has in mind >.>)

I'm fairly new at DMing... only been DMing this lot since December, which, unfortunately, has only resulted in about 12 games. So, despite being pretty well versed in the rules (most knowledgeable of the lot, anyhow), I'm at my wit's end.

I hesitate to do anything overly drastic, like doing something to permanently steal stats or levels or something, since he knows I'm trying to balance the game (and knows he's the problem) and probably wouldn't take that too well.
And he obviously has some sort of issue about needing to be very powerful, so that'd probably make the game no fun for him anymore.

My best thought so far is to get him trapped by some geas... he's also the heaviest in-game roleplayer (though he makes his roleplay fit his abilities, instead of vice-versa) so he'd probably enjoy that, and by having him as the focal point of the roleplay, I could reasonably (without seeming like I'm picking on him) craft encounters with his weaknesses solely in mind.

But beyond essentially building a campaign solely to deal with him, I've no idea what to do. Any help you can proffer would be appreciated, from general to specific. Specifically, he's a CN cleric / ordained champion with a few turning -> various effect feats, and two increased # of turning attempts feats. More significant, I suppose, is his access to ALL of the WotC 3.5 books, of which he is an unfortunately prolific reader. I'm more familiar with the general rules, but he knows all kinds of crazy spells/abilities/feats/etc.


Thank you so much for any help you can provide. I really want to make this as fun and balanced a game as I can. Thanks again.

JellyPooga
2009-05-23, 03:40 AM
Whilst part of D&D is definitely good combat, it doesn't mean that combat is has to be the focal point of the game...sure he's a monster when it comes to ultra-violence, but if the game starts to revolve less around slaying baddies and more around political scandals, social interactions and such, then the impact of his min-maxed character in comparison to the rest of the party will be significantly less.

I get the impression that he's not a bad roleplayer, as such, just a min-maxer as well, so a change of pace in the game itself shouldn't overly bother him. If he starts kicking up a stink because his character has become 'useless', then you have a real problem player.

I'm not saying take out combat entirely, just make the combats more epic, fewer and further between...if the min-maxer has an arch-rival that can give him a challenge, whilst the other players go for his weaker minions ("Watch my back, I'll handle the Necromancer!"), then the challenge of the combat can be appropriate for all involved. If the other player feel left out because min-max deals with all the Big-Bads, then whilst he's locked in deadly combat with the main baddie, have his lieutenant lurking in the shadows ready to spring out at the others; if they don't deal with him then he'll get away and contine the evil scheme (or whatever). In short, a single combat encounter can have several levels of challenge; pitch the challenges appropriately for the players individually rather than as a team...

...Just look at literature: The Lord of the Rings, for example; Gandalf is a party member way out of the league of the others, so what did the DM do? Threw a frickin' Balrog at him! None of the other players would stand a chance against so mighty a foe, so it was let to Min-Max...sorry...Gandalf to deal with the beastie. Perfectly acceptable GM tool to give the party an out of depth encounter if one member is way beyond the curve...

Necrus Philius
2009-05-23, 03:45 AM
I'd think a simple fix to the encounters would do fine here like adding in 1 monster that targets him as the threat and it being an extra challenge rating or 2 higher than the rest.

That's the only small change I can think of to your battles that you haven't already covered.

lord_khaine
2009-05-23, 03:50 AM
some additional information about your group would proberly help if we are to craft any sort of mechanical solution.

Totally Guy
2009-05-23, 04:06 AM
I'd definitely go with providing essentially 2 encounters at the same time. Once you've planned out that angle then come up with some way that each encountercan have a knock on effect on the other.

The obvious one for a cleric with turning is to provide a monsterous undead for him and then use non-undead acolytes for the support of the undead and to challenge the rest of the party. Make sure the undead side of the encounter is threatening something so that the cleric will break off from the party.

Once you've got that model working try to see how many variations on it you can manage. It needn't be straight combat. Maybe the party need to stop a servant from getting through to deliver the boss an awesome scroll whilst the cleric battles him hoping that his teamates can succeed.

Appropriate comedy... Angel Summoner! (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5NTAAvJIGrs)

Viv
2009-05-23, 04:10 AM
Can you be a little more specific about how this character has min-maxed?

Usually, min-maxed characters are not just unbalanced, they're literally unbalanced. Apply force from the appropriate angle, and they fall over.

Often times, after the first few times you do this, the player will realize that they've created a character that is not only ripe for abuse, but also ripe to be abused -- and they'll round out the character to help deal with the problem.

An example of this would be a character that has access to teleport as an immediate action; this often solves the problem of the power-attack/shock-trooper/leap attack chargers. The charger starts rolling and by the time he arrives, the target is gone, ruining his charge. Other examples include rough terrain, corners requiring turns (and hence ruining most chargers, etc), spiked-chain monkeys with trip, knock-down, knock-back, or stand still, force cages, etc.

The key is to find these angles and apply them with the minimum amount of force to negate the min-maxer's strength. This allows the other party members who don't fall over from this minimal pressure to step in and save the day.

derfenrirwolv
2009-05-23, 04:29 AM
1) Run his "discoveries" by the folks on the board here that have been DMing a while. Chances are if its seriously broken its either against the rules or under the heading of "Dm call you should definitely say no to (cough cough use activated truestrike)

I mean, how power gamer are we talking here? He's a fighter with a two handed weapon, power attack and cleave, a wizard with spell focus, a melee feral druid... or a dire half dragon Wizard 5/red mage of blasting 4/Dancer of insanity 7 ?


2) If the other players at the table don't want to min max their characters... oh well. Just design the fights or adventure so that there's something for everyone to do. If that means the human rogue who bought Stealthy and skill focus hide at first level is sneaking by the crowd to throw the switch while MinMax is blasting the other half of the dungeon so be it.

Talic
2009-05-23, 04:40 AM
I've had this situation before.

Throw him out of his element. If he's in light armor? a trip over the side of a boat will let him know that sometimes, a CR 5 shark is really closer to a CR 8, when you're fighting the water more than anything else. (yes, I've had an ubercharger have to be rescued from a 30x30x60 pool of semi-stagnant water with a few water elementals in it)

Give him situations where he isn't in a position to steal the spotlight. Yeah, there's the nasty critter over here, barrelling in... and the less dangerous ones over yonder, doing something plot related that needs fixing.

Now, powergamer gets to tangle with the bignasty, and the other people rescue the MacGuffin from the Hobgoblins that released the fiendish legendary dire bear.

Tsotha-lanti
2009-05-23, 04:56 AM
Seriously, details. What is the power-gamer using, specifically, and what are the others using, specifically?

rubycona
2009-05-23, 05:00 AM
Hehehe, he's already fallen into a river... and with his tower shield and full plate armor, he was screwed, and had to have his soggy tail rescued by the other, laughing, players. That was fun.

As far as what kind of powergamer he is, he's someone who's a great strategist, who has an uncanny knack for guessing what I'm going to throw at him, who is brilliant at both discovering interesting spells and at finding excellent uses for them, who is good at finding very useful and versatile feats in conjunction with said spells, who is carefully balanced against the strengths of the other characters (fighter is a very high AC tank, and wizard is a pyromaniac... 'nuff said XD), and who tends to steal the spotlight roleplay-wise because the other two aren't good roleplayers.

So it's not that the others don't have anything to do... they do, and he heavily relies on them, and manages combat so their talents are best put to use. But, they end up feeling like pawns in his game. It's like they're just lower level sidekicks, instead of actual partners. A great swordsman sucks without a sword... but the credit still goes to the swordsman, you know?

And due to said management, the "proper" combat tends to be stuck in a very narrow region... either it's weak enough that he'll have it destroyed in 1-2 rounds, 3 at most, or it's over his ability in which case it would be a TPK... and in order for it to be over them to that degree, it'd destroy them in 1-3 rounds, too.

As for how he plays, he's the "good" side of cleric (spontaneous healing spells), with a feat lineup that, when paired with choice spells, fairly equally splits between support and offense, without much sacrifice on either side, depending on the day's spell preparation.


Thanks for all the help you've given so far, hopefully I'll be able to use it well. I suck tactically, only really good at roleplay elements, so I fear I won't be able to implement it well, but I can give it my best shot :)


Edit: I don't remember all of what he has, or the rest of the party. They're easy enough in general, though. All are level 9 presently. I've houseruled in some edits that make them all more powerful in nearly equivalent ways, and increased the monsters accordingly, since it's fun to be powerful.

Fighter: High AC, charges in semi blindly unless better directed by the cleric, does decent damage, loves to cleave, so I sometimes throw in some minions in tight quarters.

Wizard: A pyromaniac. Going into the prestige class (I forget what it's called) that turns you into a fire elemental, basically. Loves to lob fire spells, sudden maximized fireball in particular. Is very sad when faced with high SR and fire resistance/immunity.

Cleric: Balanced against the strengths and weaknesses of the rest of the party, thereby covering up his own weaknesses and supplementing his strengths via them. Always manages to get himself in the crux of whatever situation, and "saves the day" personally, or nearly so, every time.

Tsotha-lanti
2009-05-23, 05:07 AM
That's not even remotely enough detail. What does he do? Righteous might and bash everything?

From your description, I see no power-gaming. Good tactics isn't power-gaming. Playing a healer cleric isn't power-gaming. If he's just playing well, and the others suck, that's really not his fault, is it?

Being a strategist is not power-gaming. Stealing the spotlight in RP is not power-gaming.

(Not that there's anything wrong with power-gaming. If you're playing a game of real epic heroes, it's the only way to go.)

Basically, you've just got one person who's good at both sides of RP - the game and the story - and two persons who aren't good at either. Stop trying to bring the player down, and bring the other two up. It's fairer and more sensible.

rubycona
2009-05-23, 05:13 AM
That's not even remotely enough detail. What does he do? Righteous might and bash everything?

From your description, I see no power-gaming. Good tactics isn't power-gaming. Playing a healer cleric isn't power-gaming. If he's just playing well, and the others suck, that's really not his fault, is it?

Being a strategist is not power-gaming. Stealing the spotlight in RP is not power-gaming.

(Not that there's anything wrong with power-gaming. If you're playing a game of real epic heroes, it's the only way to go.)

Basically, you've just got one person who's good at both sides of RP - the game and the story - and two persons who aren't good at either. Stop trying to bring the player down, and bring the other two up. It's fairer and more sensible.

I guess you have a point. Again, he'd be awesome in a more serious game. I just don't know how to make it fun for everyone. The other two don't want to take it seriously... they just want to have fun. And, by essentially taking over the game, he's making it not fun for them. Sure, they've taken some interesting feats or whatever they want to try out... but it weakens them so much in other respects, that they're both sub par.

That's the crux of it. I guess it's better to say, unbalanced party than powergamer, you're right. But I don't know how to Make it balanced. I tend to focus on the odd one out... since they both play similarly, and are very nearly balanced to each other, I tend to view his aspect as the issue.

I dunno :\


Correction: He Would be a full fledged powergamer and min-maxer, but I've already vetoed anything majorly broken, of which he's tried copious amounts of. I just can't veto every good combo he comes up with... that's not fair to him.

Theodoriph
2009-05-23, 05:20 AM
Basically, you've just got one person who's good at both sides of RP - the game and the story - and two persons who aren't good at either. Stop trying to bring the player down, and bring the other two up. It's fairer and more sensible.



Being a good powergamer doesn't make you good at the game. In fact, it makes you bad at the game, since unless the whole party is interested in twinking their characters, the powergamer tends to take away from the fun everyone else has.

And the goal of D&D is fun.

If an individual is detracting from the fun, they need to be dealt with.


With regards to combat, have you ever thought about simply fudging the numbers?



If the problem is that he's dealing too much damage or finding creative ways to deal lots of damage, just bump up the hp of the monsters. Your players never need to know. Or send the party up against higher CR monsters.

Or...have the monsters set traps. Sure he might be a good strategist. But that doesn't help him much when he's in a spike pit being pincushioned with arrows/bolts. Or if an illusionary floor suddenly disappears and he finds himself walking across a narrow ledge as he's suddenly attacked by a horde of vicious harpies.

Saying his strategies are good doesn't give us anything by which we can help you, since we don't know what exactly it is he's doing.

That being said if he's treating party members like lackeys, that is a problem that needs to be dealt with by talking to him and the lackeys..err...party members.

Talic
2009-05-23, 05:22 AM
Hm. I see your problem. You've got someone who's a dedicated gamer, in a group of casuals.

Easiest way to handle that, at least in my opinion? Minimize OOC strategy discussion in combat.

If it's OOC, and about the pizza, or it's something funny, great. But if it's, "Joe, I want your guy to..." or "hey bob, can't your character..."

Then no. Characters get 20 words as a free action. After that, it's a move, and they get another 20.

If he's gonna direct it, make him direct it in character. Make him roleplay his strategy too. Many tacticians fall apart at this level.

In addition, suggest players that are less involved? Especially chaotic pyro elemental savants in training? Suggest they do what they feel like against the enemies, rather than what the cleric says... At least, sometimes.

Oh, and recommend Orb of Fire to that Elemental Savant. Fits the theme, and no Spell Resistance. (Spell Compendium)

Viv
2009-05-23, 05:41 AM
With respect to sub-optimal characters: maybe there are better ways for them to accomplish with their characters what they're trying to accomplish. Help them find them, and let them retrain into them.

Actually, my GM has had this problem with me and a friend of mine while playing Shadowrun 3e. We're both rules-exploiters, and by far I'm the worse of the two. Optimization is part of what I enjoy, and luckily, she lets me run with it. Worse, I'm better than she is when it comes to tactics and strategy, and for awhile there, if she ever gave me time to prepare, I could turn it into a cakewalk.

Then, during a scenario that I had pretty effectively wrecked through good tactics, she realized something: As players, we really don't know for sure what kind of opposition is going to be there. We have a general idea, but there's always some uncertainty.

So, from then on, she would always keep some details fuzzy and would use those fuzzy areas to provide opportunities to ratchet up the difficulty of the encounter if we did something to make it too easy. Enemies that might or might not be there, traps that might or might not go off, law enforcement that might or might not show up.

She also learned to set things up to give us less time to prepare in most cases. A player with a good head for tactics can usually come up with a plan to derail what a GM has in mind. Don't give them that time. Do something in the game to create urgency that forces them to move forward without being able to plan.

As far as the player coordinating the others? Surely you have mechanisms at your disposal to disrupt their ability to communicate. Spheres of Silence, Deafness, party separation, etc, all work.

Rigorously enforce initiative. The general can't give orders until it's his turn, which means players ahead of him must either wait or act on their own initiative -- this can give the enemy a timing advantage.

Most important here is to restrict out of character communication, and enforce in-character communication limits. There's only so much you can say in a round, and there are restrictions on when you can say it.

Viv
2009-05-23, 05:45 AM
Here are two more tools:

(1) Misinformation, or lack of information. It sounds like your player is good at preparing for stuff. Lead him in the wrong direction so he arrives prepared for the wrong thing.
(2) Recurring enemies that learn the player's strengths and over time learn to counter them.

derfenrirwolv
2009-05-23, 05:51 AM
Well, that sounds like its far from power gaming. Its just someone that knows the game vs people that dont. Its a skill disparity.

I agree, don't let him direct the other players. it can get annoying getting bossed around all the time. At the same time, you may want to encourage the other players to read the combat section and at least try to play the game at more than the "move up and attack" or "stand and cast spell"

Talic
2009-05-23, 05:52 AM
One minor correction:

On speaking. The SRD states that speaking is a free action that you can make out of turn.

However, it also suggests setting a reasonable limit to a free action.

A round is 6 seconds. If he's not casting? Give him 6 seconds worth of speech.

If he is? Give him 3.

Viv
2009-05-23, 05:57 AM
On speaking. The SRD states that speaking is a free action that you can make out of turn.

It's qualified though:


Speak

In general, speaking is a free action that you can perform even when it isnít your turn. Speaking more than few sentences is generally beyond the limit of a free action.

The "in general" part gives you some leeway.

If I cared to, I might argue that you can speak out of turn, but speaking about something in reaction to something someone else has done that turn has to wait until your initiative count, as you haven't had time to observe, process, and react.

Viv
2009-05-23, 06:00 AM
Also, since it can be hard to enforce that principle -- eg, you can't unsay something once said -- you just enforce it on the back end by giving bonuses and penalties to characters for characters roleplaying it appropriately.

Aquillion
2009-05-23, 06:05 AM
Being a good powergamer doesn't make you good at the game. In fact, it makes you bad at the game, since unless the whole party is interested in twinking their characters, the powergamer tends to take away from the fun everyone else has.

And the goal of D&D is fun.

If an individual is detracting from the fun, they need to be dealt with.Read what was said. The player isn't actually powergaming as we use the term here; they're simply playing the game well. Coming up with clever strategies on the fly is not powergaming. Playing a cleric isn't powergaming.

And the main problem isn't even that they're stealing the spotlight mechanically -- they're stealing it through roleplaying. That can be a serious problem, but it has nothing to do with twinking or powergaming.

Mechanically, the problem is that the other two characters are playing comparatively weak builds (blaster wizard and fighter with, I'm guessing, bad feat selection respectively), while he's playing a decent straight cleric. No, that isn't their fault, and yes, they deserve to be able to have fun without constantly being overshadowed by the cleric -- but calling him a powergamer and a twink for (as far as we've been told, at least) just playing a generic cleric decently is not a constructive way to approach the problem. It is quite easy for a cleric, just playing intelligently, to overshadow two weaker builds without really intending to or realizing what they're doing; and it's likely no more his fault than it is the fault of anyone else at the table. It's not like he's using DMM persist or something to do everything himself (in fact, the OP even says he's playing nice with the rest of the party mechanically, focusing on one niche and relying on his teammates.) Throwing around blame unnecessarily just leads to unproductive shouting matches and lost tempers.

...to the OP, have you tried just talking to them? They might simply not realize what they're doing. Ordering teammates around can get annoying fast, yes. The roleplaying problems are not going to be solved without talking to the players -- you can't change the rules to fix that (no, I really don't recommend cutting him off after three or six seconds of speaking; you should be encouraging other players to RP, too.)

Along those lines, it is also important to encourage the other two players to step forward and grab the spotlight themselves, to contribute to making strategies and so on. If they're not doing that -- if they're not really involved, on an RP level -- that's a much more serious problem than any issues of mechanical power.

Theodoriph
2009-05-23, 06:10 AM
Read what was said. The player isn't actually powergaming as we use the term here; they're simply playing the game well. Coming up with clever strategies on the fly is not powergaming. Playing a cleric isn't powergaming.

The problem is that the other two characters are playing comparatively weak builds (blaster wizard and fighter with, I'm guessing, bad feat selection respectively), while he's playing a decent straight cleric. No, that isn't their fault, and yes, they deserve to be able to have fun without constantly being overshadowed by the cleric -- but calling him a powergamer and a twink for (as far as we've been told, at least) just playing a generic cleric decently is not a constructive way to approach the problem. It is quite easy for a cleric, just playing intelligently, to overshadow two weaker builds without really intending to or realizing what they're doing; and it's likely no more his fault than it is the fault of anyone else at the table. It's not like he's using DMM persist or something to do everything himself (in fact, the OP even says he's playing nice with the rest of the party mechanically, focusing on one niche and relying on his teammates.) Throwing around blame unnecessarily just leads to unproductive shouting matches and lost tempers.

...to the OP, have you tried just talking to them? They might simply not realize what they're doing. Ordering teammates around can get annoying fast, yes.

It is also important to encourage the other two players to step forward and grab the spotlight themselves, to contribute to making strategies and so on.


Read what I said.

Also, it would help if you would read what the person I responded to said, and ponder the implications inherent in what they said.


P.S. Playing a cleric optimally is power gaming, even if you only use core. That's partly WoTC's fault, since they made the class far too powerful. :smalltongue:

Aquillion
2009-05-23, 06:17 AM
Read what I said.

Also, it would help if you would read what the person I responded to said, and ponder the implications inherent in what they said.
I'm not seeing what you mean. Nobody has really described any 'powergaming' in this thread. Tabletop roleplaying consists of two core components -- contributing to the story, and contributing mechanically. The other players in this game are getting overshadowed on both counts. That doesn't make anyone at the table a powergamer or a twink; that sort of thing happens all the time when you're playing with groups who have mixed amounts of gaming experience.

Totally Guy
2009-05-23, 06:17 AM
P.S. Playing a cleric optimally is power gaming, even if you only use core. That's partly WoTC's fault, since they made the class far too powerful. :smalltongue:

:smallfrown:And here I thought I'd just been playing my Cleric of Kord, Obon really well...

My party was right when they said preparing Cure spells was dumb but it still didn't stop me!

Tyrmatt
2009-05-23, 06:17 AM
Two level challenges are the key here. Each encounter needs to have two objectives, one combat, one non-combat.

Nudge your more RP-inclined characters to boost their specific skills by making them consider being a legendary thief and lockpicker or a master caster of rituals and arcane effects. Let them build a persona and legacy in the world with particlar accomplishments which they can revel in when NPC's say "Hey! You're X who can break open any lock!" Or even detract from the Min Maxer's combat achievements if you're feeling mean. The kidnapped villagers are going to remember the friendly faces who helped them back to their families, not the raging berzerker who was kicking the monsters ass in the next room.

Meanwhile the Min Max takes on a particularly badass for his level enemy. He gets to bust out his most epic moves and combos against a foe who can take a licking and keep on ticking. Go as epic as you can, with lurid descriptions of every parried blow, underhanded tactic and powerful spells that his enemies have.
For maximum teamwork have him be able to weaken the enemy to the point where an environmental tactic can work.

Imagine a 2 level room where the players start in an arena with an open side with a large monster. Overhead are metal rings that the monster can reach by virtue of being tall which cause the opposite wall to shoot out and shove players out into oblivion. So if casters stand far away, the monster yanks the ring above it and has them shoved away. This forces ranged players and the melee weak to fight in close quarters (as the monster can be shoved by the traps too) where the monster has an edge.
Above the arena there is a small gallery area where the monster can attack players who hide up there but players can also feasibly reach the rings to pull and turn the traps against the monster. The badass player however is going to have to keep the monster busy so the acrobats/wizards etc find ways to reach the rings. Once they're in position, the badass slices open the tendons holding the monster's legs up causing it to fall to it's knees. Then he clears out and the other players throw the switch, hurling him out into the abyss. Maximum teamwork with everyone using all their skills.

I think that type of cleric is a tanker type so a scenario like this would work. The key is variety.

Aquillion
2009-05-23, 06:22 AM
Nudge your more RP-inclined characters to boost their specific skills by making them consider being a legendary thief and lockpicker or a master caster of rituals and arcane effects.

...

Meanwhile the Min Max takes on a particularly badass for his level enemy.There isn't any min-max here. The way the cleric is playing would be perfectly fine in a group where everyone is equally experienced. Likewise, since the problem is that the cleric is basically using the group like a piece of equipment, a big nasty for him to fight won't work. He's not a min-maxed ubercharger or DMM cleric or pun-pun. The problem is that the game, even when played like that, still unbalances horribly easily.

And the RP-inclined character is the cleric. Part of the problem is that the cleric is RPing a great deal, and the other characters aren't contributing nearly so much. Part of this is because the cleric is stealing the spotlight in RP, but (at least from how it's been described) only part.

Mystic Muse
2009-05-23, 06:31 AM
the problem seems to be the other players aren't being effective enough rather than the one player being too effective. this is just an example but say all of them somehow rolled 3 18s and 3 13s if a fighter puts all their 18s into charisma, Intelligence and wisdom and another puts their 18s into constitution, strength and dexterity it isn't power gaming. it's one player either A being stupid or B not trying because they want to "try something out" tell them the reason they're so behind is because they aren't making their characters effective while the other guy is.

shadzar
2009-05-23, 06:36 AM
You have asked away fromt he other players.

You have stopped form getting thing you thing would disrupt the game and he wont do it.

Time for a trap that hit this character that has the die-or-die effect.

MAybe his next character will be more in line with the rest of the group.

You have done the best you can with polite, and it isn't working, so it is time for the boot. Either his butt out of the game, or place it firmly upside his head so he gets with the program.

Don't coddle these types of players. A DM is not a babysitter, and if these players don't want to work with the group, then they need to leave it.

It is a hard thing for a DM to do, but sometimes you just have to.

Next game you can even come in and say the character was taken away to another plane by some creature and the other players have no tracks to follow to find him. Then just let the player make a new character following the rules and playstyle of the group.

It is the job of the DM to make sure all players are working together for the good of the game, and the job of a player to make sure they are not taking away from the fun of the other players and the DM.

Mystic Muse
2009-05-23, 06:38 AM
as another person posted sometimes the player isn't entirely aware of what they're dong but once they are and they don't stop? yeah it's usually time to boot them by then.

Tsotha-lanti
2009-05-23, 07:06 AM
Being a good powergamer doesn't make you good at the game. In fact, it makes you bad at the game, since unless the whole party is interested in twinking their characters, the powergamer tends to take away from the fun everyone else has.

Power-gamers are good at the mechanics aspect - the game.

rubycona says the player is also the best roleplayer of the group - the story.

So yeah, the player is better at both aspects - story and mechanics - of the game than the others.


And the goal of D&D is fun.

If an individual is detracting from the fun, they need to be dealt with.

Why is the person who is doing well the one who needs to be dealt with?



If the problem is that he's dealing too much damage or finding creative ways to deal lots of damage, just bump up the hp of the monsters. Your players never need to know. Or send the party up against higher CR monsters.

The only part of combat that may even be really interesting is thinking. Are you actually advocating negating the thinking aspect (clever tactics) in favor of the dice aspect - and then cheating at the dice? That's inane.


Or...have the monsters set traps. Sure he might be a good strategist. But that doesn't help him much when he's in a spike pit being pincushioned with arrows/bolts. Or if an illusionary floor suddenly disappears and he finds himself walking across a narrow ledge as he's suddenly attacked by a horde of vicious harpies.

Creating the tomb of horrors is trivial and pointless, and picking on one PC over the others is unfair, bad DMing, and going to be obvious.


But yeah, rubycone, seriously - details. What's his build, what feats does he have, what kind of tactics does he use? Be specific. It's very possible there's issues with rules here - there usually are, if things are really out of whack. Or have you handed out magic items too generously, maybe?

Jayabalard
2009-05-23, 07:38 AM
Why is the person who is doing well the one who needs to be dealt with?Because he's the odd man out. The other players don't want to play seriously, and the GM is happy to GM for that sort of group. Since he's the misfit, he's the problem that needs to be fixed.


Well, that sounds like its far from power gaming. Its just someone that knows the game vs people that dont. Its a skill disparity. It doesn't sound like skill disparity to me at all ... it's a player focus disparity.

rubycona
2009-05-23, 08:21 AM
Wow, there have been a lot of great responses! Thank you, everyone.

Allow me to clarify certain issues:

#1. I Don't have his exact build on hand. All I recall is that he uses some feats to turn turning attempts into various effects, and uses spells from a god-awful amount of books cleverly. I swear, his entire spell list changes every day the characters rest. (Not quite, but still >.>)

#2. I call him a powergamer / min-maxer only partially correctly. That's his Nature. I did ask him to ease off. He understands the problem, and is trying, but he can't help but think the way he does. With his effort, he's not Really powergaming anymore... he's simply doing a really good job. The problem, however, is even that level is way above and beyond the other characters.

#3. He's an awesome player, and I definitely don't want to kick him. I'm here asking because, since he IS putting in the effort to try to ease off, I want to do my share, and try to help force the remainder of the balance in ways that are fun and fair.


He's definitely good at D&D... the best of the lot. Skill disparity is certainly an aspect of the issue, but not nearly so much as a focus disparity. He's a serious gamer; the others are casual. To them, D&D is a fun way to hang out with friends... the hanging out being the focus. To him, D&D is the focus.

They Do like D&D, and look forward to the game every week. Personally, I feel that my job, as the DM, is to make sure they have as much fun as possible every game. I try to learn their habits, their likes and dislikes, and play accordingly. Not that I'm making the game a fantasy-land full of treasure for their characters... sometimes facing something you don't like adds to the tension of the game, another kind of fun.

The problem, restated differently, is that the serious player... the cleric... is playing a different game than the other two. The way he's playing is taking away from their enjoyment.

I've tried goading the other two into taking the game more seriously. At first, I tried emphasizing the cleric's roleplay, helping him shine, in hopes that the fun he was having would inspire the others. It did... but only to laughter. They still don't know how to immerse themselves in the D&D world. They're learning... but slowly.

I don't want to force it into a game they don't want to play. I just want to make Their game as fun as possible. Forcing speech limitations, limiting interactions... I fear that will detract, more than add, for casual players. For me and the cleric, that'd be fine. We can stay in character for the whole session. Them? Not so much.

I hope that better clarifies what I'm looking for. I'm just looking for a way to help balance against the party (one of whom, the fighter, is a bit of a combat whore, so I have to have a combat once per session, minimum XD) in such a way that provides the most fun and the least hassle, for my players.



Though, the suggestions you've provided thus far have given me a lot to chew on. Thank you very much ^-^ I'll be thinking them over.

Edit: As a note, I want to keep things fun for the cleric as well, one of the reasons that I won't just nerf him. I Have said no on a number of broken things, which he's not too pleased about, but he loves D&D, and a handful of DM restrictions won't change that. That's why I seem to be more focused on the other players.

BizzaroStormy
2009-05-23, 08:54 AM
Throw them into a fight where attacks by the enemies have lasting effects, such as one that bestows negative levels. I remember I played a game where a trap my DM set was a potion of Bestow Curse was disguised as a potion of cure mod wounds.

Traps are another good way to do this. Anything from an indiana jones boulder scene to a simple pit covered by a tarp. Doesn't have to be anything in the bit, just have it 30 or so feet deep and see how he gets out of it. Make sure the walls are smooth.

Asheram
2009-05-23, 09:25 AM
Not sure if it's to any help. Just a suggestion.
But one thing to spice up the game and make characters feel important is to start to do quests and campaigns out of their past; Say the warriors hometown is under attack and they welcome him back as a hero.
Or the wizards turns into an unwilling master as the college forces an apprentice on him.
There's lots of fun things to do that makes the characters feel important again.

Dacia Brabant
2009-05-23, 09:34 AM
This doesn't look like an issue of character builds and mechanics at all, it's an issue of methods, of approaches to the game--methods that can be conflicting but don't have to be. Everyone is going to have a different idea of what's fun to them, but that doesn't mean that a particular game can't be fun on different levels.

So if it's fun for the two casual players to charge in blindly or throw lots of fireballs at stuff, let them, and if it's fun for the one serious player to think out and use various combos to deal effectively with situations that the others can't due to their choices, I say let him. Just (echoing what another poster said earlier) give them two different types of encounters to deal with, like throwing waves of low-level mooks at the two casual players (suitable for a blaster mage and an ordinary fighter) meant to distract them while their well-prepared leader completes his nefarious scheme, which the serious player would have to find a way to stop.

That way the casuals can roll lots of dice and giggle as they incinerate and decapitate the minions and the serious guy can strategize and role-play out the serious confrontation, so they both get to do what they enjoy and hopefully you'd be able to have fun GMing both of those roles with them too. Then once you've established this pattern you could even switch it up and have the boss only be weak against whatever the casual players can do while the minions are resistant/immune to them but weak against something that the serious player can do, just to add some variety.

Narmoth
2009-05-23, 09:40 AM
Our group is unbalanced by power-gaming. All try to power-game, but only I'm truly successful at it (800 dmg on second round with greatsword+2 at lvl 16)

What I've proposed to the dm, and think is a good fix is this:
The group gets collective xp. That means if 2 monsters with 10 hd attack the powergamer, and 4 monsters with 8 hd attack the 2 other players in the group, they still get the same xp for the battle
So you simply make some monsters tougher than the other, without making them stand out in any way (no uruk hai amongst mountain orcs, no great warlord with his retinue) so everyone kills as many monsters as the rest.
Of course, the powergamer, and most likely the rest will notice, but I think they will agree that it's an okay fix

derfenrirwolv
2009-05-23, 10:22 AM
It doesn't sound like skill disparity to me at all ... it's a player focus disparity.

Focused on what? RoLL playing? Role and Roll playing aren't opposite ends of the spectrum. You don't get worse at one by getting better at the other.

If you mean focused on the game, well, in that case the focus is the cause of the disparity but its still there. He's focused, but that itself isn't the problem. Its that he knows when to charge, what spells he can cast, to finish off wounded combatants rather than spreading the damage around etc.

Whats he supposed to do, see an opportunity in combat and not do something?

Tsotha-lanti
2009-05-23, 12:00 PM
Switch games. There are many, many games that are overall better than D&D, and much more suited to casual players.

Keld Denar
2009-05-23, 12:24 PM
Another idea is to have him post his character here. Many of the posters around here have a good eye for optimization, and can tell at a glance if the character is "solid" or "overpowered". Between you, him, and us, we could all come up with a character build that is GOOD, without be game breaking. Might take a bit of work from both of you, but you sure can't beat the free advice that you get from an active forum!

(Gosh, what did we do before the internets? Its like cell phones. I remember the time before, but I couldn't imagine surviving without it anymore. Is there some kind of a 12 step program somewhere?)

Herobizkit
2009-05-23, 12:28 PM
I second the "switch games" suggestion.

D&D has been born and bred into most gamers, even if they've never actually played the game. D&D has the history and the baggage of being the penultimate "bust dungeons, kill things, and take their stuff" game.

Your star player knows the rules inside, out and backwards and enjoys the challenge and creativity of character builds, plus has the know-how of using said build effectively. What's more, he's an awesome role-player who eats up your plot hooks like a trail of Reese's Pieces. That's great!

Your other players, OTOH, enjoy the laid-back hanging out while playing a game, like they might also do when playing video games, or watching a movie. They're into what they're doing, but they're not worried about being INVOLVED in it; it's just for fun, win or lose. This, too, is perfectly fine.

My suggestion would be to try a different game/setting, one that no one has played before. If you choose to run it, worry less about plot/exposition/story and just run each game as a standalone, one-shot, win-or-lose scenario. Try to go rules-light, or work with a pre-designed setting that you won't likely get attached to or invest any extra energy into running. Players want casual, so run casual.

Sure, it's likely that your "star" player will want to absorb the rules, play with them, and enjoy creating new builds to try with whatever system you use. That's fine. Let him. But don't let that influence how you RUN your game. If he ends up being Joe Awesome, just be sure to give the other PC's equal 'screen time" and have each stand-alone focus on one particular PC's abilities or role-playing opportunities.

In short, pick a system that ever player starts with equal footing, and run your game like a TV serial program instead of an epic campaign. Even the stars have to sit back for a few scenes if they're not the focus of the story.

Moofaa
2009-05-23, 08:21 PM
Lots of good suggestions here. I don't think this is so much a mechanical issue as it is a general gaming skill issue. Hes just better in every aspect at the game than the casual players.

Two more suggestions would be to:

Seperate the real-gamer from the others. Either give him some god-given mission that takes him away, or devise some sort of nuetralizing trap from which the other players have to save him. Without their 'leader' its now up to them to focus on the game, and they get to 'save the day'.

Make one of the players the focus of an adventure, as suggested earlier, use their backgrounds. They get a summons for help from their hometown village, and only one (or both) of the casuals might have some knowledge of how to help. Raise the stakes and have their family members kidnapped (or already killed).

Otherwise be patient. The experienced player seems more cooperative than the other two, if they are seriously complaining you just need to tell them they need to put up or shut up.

In a game I played in a few years ago I was the fighter/cleric with a ranger and rogue. The other two were first-time players. It was frustrating for me to be the leader during battles (they did RP ok). Especially when I was pretty self-sufficient and normally had my hands full simultaneously being the tank and healer. More than once I was left standing in a room full of baddies trying to stay alive while the others high-tailed it out of there because I couldnt do it all and it was easier to solo than to work as a team.

The biggest problem was that the other two players seldom had a clue what to do outside of RP, and I had to remind them constantly to look at their character sheets and ask them what they could do, and then issue orders. You can imagine a group of 1st levels in a dungeon being chased by 20 kobolds and one person trying to coordinate strategy, fight, heal, and otherwise think for everyone else. It wasn't very much fun for me, especially since I prefer to avoid leadership roles in RL and in games.

Eventually I ended up staying behind and clearing the dungeon by myself while the others waited outside, then I called them in to use their various skills to search the place. After that the game sort of broke up, although for unrelated reasons (DM and players had kids and jobs and other useless crap like that). We had talked about running some simulations outside of the campaign however, to bring the others up to speed.

The only other solution I can think of, is to allow the experienced player to GM for a while, if hes up for it. You can either switch places or start a new campaign.

Josh the Aspie
2009-05-23, 09:22 PM
There are a few things here.

Everyone is getting together and have a good time to game. Everyone is in it for the fun, and at least one of the players is trying to help the DM make things a fun time for everyone. This is EXCELLENT, and a step above many games we have heard about on these boards. Be aware that you are doing some things VERY well already! CHEERS!

That said, some people simply are not very skilled at role playing, and because of this may tend to shrink to the background, or have their contributions less valued than others.

Anecdotes

I have been in game groups before where the only 'in character' remarks some players have made have been ridiculous, and had nothing at all to do with the game.

Unfortunately, this player was also not very good at understanding how to play his characters. He would insist on the DM actually doing the building FOR him (and as she was his wife, and they could communicate often, usually did), which exacerbated the problem that he had no idea what his character could actually do. He constantly forgot abilities. He also insisted on playing a different character class each time, and each time the character class was more unusual, and had abilities that were harder and harder to keep track of.

There is a reason that when I agree to take someone into my D&D sessions and make it partially a 'teaching game' for them, I insist they play simple, easy to play classes.

Also, there is a complete and total difference between picking feats to fit roleplaying, and picking wacky feats that look weird and interesting, and deciding that it's roleplaying to take that feat. That's as much build-before-roleplay as making a power gaming build and then making reasons for the build afterward.

In one of her campaigns, I specifically made an archivist to have primarily support abilities. I had healing spells, healing feats (including reserve), buff spells, etc. I would give everyone in the group buffs, to their grinning faces the first time I pulled it out. "Okay, all of you guys get this kind of bonus against these guys!" "WOOHOO!"

But despite buffing everyone, and holding my attack spells back in case we got into trouble, despite healing people when they were down over taking the combat spotlight in other ways, despite there being other, more powerful characters, my net contribution to the battlefield, my understanding of the game, and my attempts to keep my other team mates going often made my character seem more of a bad-ass than any of the primary combatants... and I had the knowledge monkey checks to keep us advancing on the DM's knowledge based missions (since few others cared to take any knowledge skills).

And I definitely had more of an effect on the battlefield than the lycanthrope ranger did... who kept trying to figure out how to do SOMETHING and kept forgetting half his abilities. And when we tried to offer suggestions, or offered to help him come up with something, he would sometimes get angry and storm away from the table.

I was also one of the more effective at driving the plot.

The point is, I helped out the other characters, and in combat, I tried to help them shine, while also shining myself. Some people, though, I simply could not help to do so.

The next problem, unfortunately, which I will fully admit too, is that once I had my teeth sunk into a tasty peace of a puzzle, I had trouble letting go and letting the DM move on to the next person, because I knew -exactly- what I wanted to look into next, and my actions were usually relatively rapid fire. When we were -not- in combat, the party often had to split for us to be effective. I'd go to the library of wherever we were, and research (what I was asked to build a character to do), thus advancing the main plot, while others would look around and try to figure out how to create side-plots, or would completely miss the side-plots the DM put together for them.

In another section of the campaign (with our alternate characters), I had a Chaotic Suspicious character who -was- committed to the forces of good, and to his team, but who the DM had unintentionally placed in a position of being unable to safely share his knowledge with the other PCs. If I opened my mouth ICly, my character risked a divine smiting, or eternally risking tipping the eternal balance of power towards evil... or both. As such, they often viewed him suspiciously IC, and resented their new characters not being in the know OOCly.

One gamer in the group started 3 or 4 large scale arguments over how he should be able to know long forgotten knowledge with the same checks I used to figure out connections with the info my character was the only one privy too. It made sense that he couldn't, but I would not want to have been in his position. And the disparity kept getting larger, and larger, until my character was able to get some of the other characters in the know by vouching for them. The character that had just joined that gaming session? Not vouched for, but was eventually tested by avatars and allowed to know. I also started revealing info at that point, by suddenly not censoring myself. This lead to many confused looks, and question/answer sessions, and was basically all I got to do that session. :P


The fellow who has experience, and understanding of the game is using it. This is to be expected, and is a GOOD thing. He's even agreed to play a less powerful build.

The others are not, and they dislike that fact.

My main suggestion here is to help them figure out ways to be effective on their own. Help them build single person tactics that do not depend on the cleric (even if they may be enhanced by him). Ask for the cleric's help in doing this, he has some good strategy and gaming experience.

Make sure that they can act independently, and understand their own character sheets, if they do not already. This is key. Once they do, reinforce that the cleric can not command quite as much IC, and ask the players to come up with their own actions ahead of time.

Also... if they do NOT understand their character sheets, sitting there staring at their sheet with no idea how to do something even remotely effective is FAR from fun.

Krafen
2009-05-23, 09:38 PM
Players with differing objectives can be hard to run a game for. I can relate to your problem player. I have a knack for seeing effective combinations and it is difficult to set aside the knowledge, once I have seen it.

One possibility is alternating between lighthearted and more serious content. Perhaps your serious player will be able to step back and let himself enjoy a more relaxed approach now and then.

Explaining ahead of time to your players what you are trying to do can help. When they know you are trying to balance their varying priorities, players are
often willing to work with you.

When dealing with powerful characters, rather than devising ways to negate their power, design scenarios that require it. I don't mean just create harder encounters, but require the use of specific abilities the characters have. For example, if a character keeps foiling your puzzles with divination spells, create challenges that require divination for the party to have a chance of solving the puzzle. This approach can also help you set certain characters in the spotlight.

You mentioned the cleric employing a vast array of spells from a variety of sources. I wouldn't suggest disallowing spells from the various supplementary books, but make him work, in character, for them. Perhaps he must spend time in research or meditation to gain access to them. Another option would be to require a sacrifice of some kind to his deity to demonstrate seriousness of his need.

This limitation would serve a few purposes. He would have to plan ahead and prioritize a bit more to obtain the spells required for whatever combination he has discovered. From your description, he may enjoy the challenge. Additionally, you will know in advance what new spells he has access to, which may help you better prepare.

Sinfire Titan
2009-05-23, 09:39 PM
Being a good powergamer doesn't make you good at the game. In fact, it makes you bad at the game, since unless the whole party is interested in twinking their characters, the powergamer tends to take away from the fun everyone else has.

Ok, this just makes me wretch. There's so much Stormwind Fallacy in that statement alone that I feel the need to punch a small gerbil.

Powergamers have their place in DnD. In fact, everyone but actual cheaters has a place in DnD. The only time you can say someone is bad at the game is when they are actually cheating in excess (there is an acceptable amount of cheating; anything above that amount is excessive).

Please retract your statement, it's extremely offensive.

Talic
2009-05-24, 12:17 AM
Here's my thoughts:

1) Cleric dude is good. He likes roleplay. Ask him to consider a new roleplaying challenge on the next set of characters... A character with low intelligence. Somebody simple and direct. Maybe a druid, maybe a fighter...

It seems like the specific style of the battlemaster is what's causing the issue. Even better, if he's a better roleplayer? Enlist his aid. Most players LOVE this, and I use this method regularly. He's not a Co-DM, not an NPC runner, but kinda a DM's pet. Clue him in, out of character, to a couple ideas you have about the campaign, see if he wants to have a hand in the story, steer the campaign towards some things, away from others.

Drawing people out? Well, if one other player is a combat junkie, he's a cleric of a deity of war... or peace. Create possibilities for discussion, for character development.

As for always in or out of character? Not at all. I was trying to suggest that whatever was good out of character can stay good. Try to limit the Cleric's IN character commands to a reasonable level. It's enough for one or two quick things, but it doesn't give him enough time to establish full tactical control.

Out of character talk? Psh, I spend about 1/3 of the sessions I play in talking about dates, pizza, my trip to galveston beach, the ramifications of a Mass Dance spell that only affects farm animals... You name it.

The game's about having fun. Don't go so far as to make it realistic... but make it believable. A couple sentences in character a round or so...

But if he's filling his unforgiving minute with much more than sixty seconds worth of distance run (or spoken, as the case may be), then just, rein in the commands a bit.

Don't do it formally, just ask the cleric to give his statements a sense of urgency, to make them brief, give the commands like he was dodging a rusty spear and calling out between spells. Tell him you think it'll add to the combat feel, and that it'll hopefully draw the other players in more. Which, hopefully, it will do!

Knaight
2009-05-24, 12:54 AM
If said powergamer is actually interested in being even to everybody else, and isn't particularly competitive about character builds and such (which is probable, as you said he is a good roleplayer), then give everybody else a few extra levels. They will probably remain about even in power if done properly, and everybody wins. Sure, there is the complaint that the hard work put into optimizing no longer counts, but if your optimizing to any extent its probably because you enjoy it.

I've been in the position of the cleric player. I had come from a group where everybody was min-maxed up to an absurd extent. For example, somebody managed to be able to summon and control six orbs of annihilation at level 6. I'm still not sure how. From there the second game had people who were competitive about their characters (I believe the exact words were "I'm not going to cripple my character because somebody else is too lazy to optimize" when I asked how optimized the game was), although the absurd levels of stuff flying by wasn't the same. I had picked up a lot on optimization by then, and after that I joined another group. As a GM of a different system, in which optimization doesn't even exist.

The characters in the other game the group was playing in, under a different GM, in D&D got brought up, and eventually I joined that game. Based on the stories, I assumed a fair amount of optimization, but not the lengths in either of the two groups. So I made a moderately powerful rogue. It turned out that there was no optimization whatsoever, and I had unintentionally completely overpowered the entire group. I also came from more of an acting background, and could end up spotlight hogging in role playing, along with one or two other people. Not intentionally, it just happened.

Then I found out that everybody had been making custom prestige classes, which were expected to be overpowered. I made a few, didn't like them, and eventually made a base class and race instead, which was a little overpowered (incorporeal, but able to be hit by weapons. It was an "emotion spirit", which manipulated emotions, and could be damaged by emotions such as wrath manifesting at it. Such as when people swung a weapon.), according to the GM. Personally I thought it wasn't that impressive, but I was used to groups that were way twinked out. So I made a warlock. And still somehow managed to completely overpower everybody else in the party.

The solution: Take a level penalty, 2 levels, to account for optimization. It works fine, allows me to not worry about over-optimizing too much, and gives me time to see what I should be making a power similar to. Seeing as the average seems to be a barbarian who doesn't take power attack and forgets about the existence of rage, I'm sticking to my 2 level LA. It works better for everybody, and I really don't see this as "punishing me for my work". I can optimize naturally, end up on the same power level as the group, and then focus on actually playing my deluded Prophet of Nerull, who is convinced that Nerull is an unbiased, fair, non-judgemental and ultimately neutral god of death. First cult I bump into is going to be fun.

Mordar
2009-05-24, 12:57 AM
Why is the person who is doing well the one who needs to be dealt with?

While I agree with a lot of what you're saying, I can't agree with this...a min/maxer (or optimizer, non-newb or whatever your choice of terms might be) is not automatically or by definition "doing well". This implies that D&D is "winable" or that not doing so means you're playing badly. Isn't that the anti-Stormwind fallacy? :)

- M

PS: Yes, I agree the character in question is most probably not perfectly min/maxed...but that's neither here nor there for purposes of this hijack.

Quellian-dyrae
2009-05-24, 01:03 AM
Myself, I'm always a fan of maintaining balance by improving things across the board. Your cleric clearly has significant proficiency with the game rules, and it sounds like he's willing to work with you to make the game fun for the others. Chances are, if he's that good at the mechanics, he also finds the mechanics themselves to be part of the fun of the game. There are a couple ways you can take advantage of this.

The quick and easy one would be to see if everyone would be okay with him rebuilding the other characters mechanically, keeping them true to their original concepts while also giving them sufficient optimization to bring them closer to his level. He'd get to try out some new builds, they'd get more effective characters. Now, this won't work if he's likely to build them to support his character, but it sounds like he recognizes the problem and is willing to work to mitigate it.

Alternately, look over the abilities the characters have (and others you think they might take/you want NPCs to use/you just don't think are good enough) and give them an upgrade. Maybe get some input from your cleric while you're at it; he'd probably have a good eye for spotting potentially broken combos.

Either way, you can give the cleric a bit of a mechanical challenge, bring the party a bit closer in balance, and keep the game's overall power high enough that the cleric doesn't feel nerfed and the other two get to lay the waste they want.

Talic
2009-05-24, 01:09 AM
While I agree with a lot of what you're saying, I can't agree with this...a min/maxer (or optimizer, non-newb or whatever your choice of terms might be) is not automatically or by definition "doing well". This implies that D&D is "winable" or that not doing so means you're playing badly. Isn't that the anti-Stormwind fallacy? :)

- M

PS: Yes, I agree the character in question is most probably not perfectly min/maxed...but that's neither here nor there for purposes of this hijack.
I disagree. Playing well could mean "successful at accomplishing his goals and objectives".

I don't think it necessarily implies someone is "winning D&D", any more than one says Bill Gates is "winning life". It all depends on the standard you judge by.

My opinion? You can win D&D. Absolutely. If everyone enjoys the game, you win. Living, dying, good, evil, rules, story... Meh. Playing a game is about having fun. If you've done that? Congratulations, you've got it down good.

Tyrmatt
2009-05-24, 01:54 AM
There isn't any min-max here. The way the cleric is playing would be perfectly fine in a group where everyone is equally experienced. Likewise, since the problem is that the cleric is basically using the group like a piece of equipment, a big nasty for him to fight won't work. He's not a min-maxed ubercharger or DMM cleric or pun-pun. The problem is that the game, even when played like that, still unbalances horribly easily.

And the RP-inclined character is the cleric. Part of the problem is that the cleric is RPing a great deal, and the other characters aren't contributing nearly so much. Part of this is because the cleric is stealing the spotlight in RP, but (at least from how it's been described) only part.

I apoligise for phrasing this in a completely random way. I spent yesterday sitting soaking in a fever and alternating between being too hot and breaking out in cold sweats.
The understanding I took was that while the other players like to RP, the cleric who uses his power to dictate his roleplay as being top priority over others. Thus by helping the other characters establish a persona (and maybe fudging the first few untrained rolls to help build their confidence) he could nudge them towards greater roleplaying, especially by using NPCs to gently flatter their growing prowess.

I also quite like Knaight's LA strategy. If the cleric agrees (and it sounds like he wants to help), bring his character down a peg or two, maybe pit them against a fair few undead to remind him that while he's feated for versatility and conversion, he can infact still just Turn Undead.
Or rebuke. Or give great descriptions about how under the gaze of his holy symbol, the undeads flesh begins to char and the creature's panicked flailings as it feels pain for the first time. People I've played with have always gotten great kicks out of big grandstanding of weak or little used abilities.
Hell, I can sum that up in three words : Jim's Magic Missile!

Decoy Lockbox
2009-05-24, 04:50 AM
It doesn't really sounds like the guy's character is any more powerful than the others, just that his focus is different. The casuals just want to hang out and blow off steam, while the "powergamer" is actively interested in playing the game. I would sit the whole group down and have a long, boring talk about your relationship...I mean your campaign:smallbiggrin:

This is a sticky wicket indeed. I've been in groups with mixed proficiency levels, but it was normally the powergamers/optimizers who outnumbered the casuals.

Tsotha-lanti
2009-05-24, 05:21 AM
While I agree with a lot of what you're saying, I can't agree with this...a min/maxer (or optimizer, non-newb or whatever your choice of terms might be) is not automatically or by definition "doing well". This implies that D&D is "winable" or that not doing so means you're playing badly. Isn't that the anti-Stormwind fallacy? :)

- M

I don't know what your strawman argument is, but it's nothing to do with what I wrote. And where's the min-maxing?

The player is making effective use of feats and spells (and not, apparently, using any broken ones either), is using good tactics, and is the best roleplayer. The player is, indeed, doing well. Doing best, even. Mastery of the rules is part of playing a RPG.

Fitz10019
2009-05-24, 05:41 AM
Many of the suggestions so far are special combat circumstances. Ideally, you want a fix that would affect all combat circumstances.

1) If you give the other two players (not the cleric) the leadership feat (for free, based on some circumstance) and thereby cohorts, they will feel less like sidekicks when they have their own sidekicks. Limit the cleric to one suggestion (presumably to other players) per round, and never involving the cohorts.

2) Give the cleric a vision problem. In combat, he's blind with blindsense 40' (he knows location and size of opponents, but no visual details). As a strategic player, he might thrive on the challenge of conducting combat with limited information. This could be a helm with some attributes so good, he wants it, but it takes an hour worn to activate, and an hour after removed to lose the effects. Ask the player, 'if you were blind with blindsense, would you feel hosed or challenged?' Tell him to think about it. If he feels hosed, abandon this suggestion.

3) Scramble monster abilities and descriptions. Choose Monster A for a combat, describe it as Monster B (same size) during combat.

Cubey
2009-05-24, 05:52 AM
I am disgusted by posts that advocate to deal with the "problem player" by screwing his character over - level drain, death trap, other stuff that'd make Gary Gygax proud. Not every post on this thread is like this, most of them aren't, but some were.

Why? Because I didn't realize that being a good RPer AND strategist is suddenly some kind of an infraction. This guy sees the "problem" (thus giving more willingness to dumb his character down than I would) and is willing to correct it. If other two players still sit on their seats and whine, without doing ANYTHING about their characters, it's their fault, not the other guy's.

Just because more people are discontent than content doesn't mean they are automatically right.

These two players refuse to play seriously, they refuse to make better strategic judgement and therefore lose spotlight - it's okay. They have to take consequence for their choice. You cannot have your cake and eat it. Most importantly, and this is the part of the post you should read even while ignoring others, if someone just plays "for fun" without trying seriously then they shouldn't complain about not being in the spotlight or overshadowed by other players. That's a "serious" player's mindset, and you won't reach these goals playing casually, only seriously.

Triaxx
2009-05-24, 05:54 AM
It seems the problem isn't a need to deal with the player, but a need to work with the character. Try seperating the party.

Set up a trap that will lock the character into it's 'Worst Fear/Most Disturbing Memory/Happy Place'. Add a sign that says in effect: Only the strongest shall survive. An ominous voice works if you can manage without laughing.

Talk to the player before hand and explain you want the others to have a chance in the light, so you're letting him have some fun.

Now while he navigates a mini-dungeon, the others go through a door that opened when the trap was triggered, and find, depending on their specialties either a Demon to Deal with, or a mini-combat encounter geared to them specifically. Maybe Fire-weak monsters with protection from fire in place. The solution being to burn through the ropes holding the chandeliers in place.

And for the fighter... an enemy he can defeat with brute force, but that will defeat all his other tactics.

When all is said and done, hand out equal XP, and give the two casual's a free feat each and let the cleric have something useful. I did this whole thing once, and took an idea from Baldur's Gate 2, and let him have a holy symbol that added one wisdom and a bonus to his attempts to turn undead. Worked out wonderfully.

---

Also, don't be afraid to expand the encounters. He's a good strategist? Test the limits of his strategy. 10 Kobolds is a slaughter. 50 is an encounter. 100 is a test of endurance.

Or let him challenge the leader of the Kobolds to single combat. Bonus points if they start chanting: 'Nup-nup'.

Talic
2009-05-24, 06:00 AM
I am disgusted by posts that advocate to deal with the "problem player" by screwing his character over - level drain, death trap, other stuff that'd make Gary Gygax proud. Not every post on this thread is like this, most of them aren't, but some were.

Why? Because I didn't realize that being a good RPer AND strategist is suddenly some kind of an infraction. This guy sees the "problem" (thus giving more willingness to dumb his character down than I would) and is willing to correct it. If other two players still sit on their seats and whine, without doing ANYTHING about their characters, it's their fault, not the other guy's.

Just because more people are discontent than content doesn't mean they are automatically right.

These two players refuse to play seriously, they refuse to make better strategic judgement and therefore lose spotlight - it's okay. They have to take consequence for their choice. You cannot have your cake and eat it. Most importantly, and this is the part of the post you should read even while ignoring others, if someone just plays "for fun" without trying seriously then they shouldn't complain about not being in the spotlight or overshadowed by other players. That's a "serious" player's mindset, and you won't reach these goals playing casually, only seriously.

I cannot find words to express how strongly I agree with the first half of your post...

and how strongly I disagree with the last.

This issue is NOT the fault of the experienced player, true.
It's also not the fault of the casual players.

It is a difference in playstyles, which results in an imbalanced game. This isn't a case of "banhammer on the good player"... But it's also not a case of "suck it up, Nancy-boy" on the casuals.

There is a factor that's not being accounted for, by those who seek to lay blame on either the good player, or the casual player...

I'm having a lot of trouble with one of my players, and I was hoping for some advice. It's a very casual game... just 4 friends coming together to hang out, eat snacks, and be amused. Game has more laughter than dice.
This is a gathering of friends, more than anything.

Telling the casuals, "sorry, your fault. Get more serious or suck it up...."

That doesn't help. Whether it's true, or false, or whatever... The OP has a vested interest in making sure everyone has fun, and that's the issue.

The philosophy on "no right to complain"... That alienates players, gamers, and friends. This is a social hobby. I'm sure solutions that enhance that social experience are more desired than ones that lay blame.

Cubey
2009-05-24, 06:17 AM
But what the casual players want is impossible!
They want to have their characters in the spotlight, they want them to excel. This will never happen in a group with mixed (casual/dedicated) players, and only rarely in groups with casual players only.

But then, a casual plays to have fun and not to excel. Okay, that needs elaboration: Dedicated players play to have fun too, but they do so by excelling (combat, RP, or anything else). For the casual, simply being there and playing the character is enough. These two play like casuals but have the goals of a dedicated. This point of view can only bring disappointment! It's like with sports - there are those who practice them casually as amateurs, and those who are all SERIOUS BUSINESS and professional athletes (I'm not saying dedicated/serious players are professionals, this is just a comparison). And both of these levels of dedication are okay! It's only not okay when the amateur sportsman hopes to do as good at their sport as the pro. Or hopes for the same level of media recognition. Or, when there is a contest where both pros and amateurs participate, hopes not to be overshadowed by the professional.

It's simply unreal. If they're real casual players, then they shouldn't worry about their characters' underperformance. And if they DO worry about that, then they should admit that they're serious players after all and either learn by themselves or ask for advice on how to perform better.

Talic
2009-05-24, 06:38 AM
... Or they're players that are still inexperienced at the game, and don't know where to begin. So many spells, books, options. So many nuances, and rules. And then there's the "getting comfortable with role-playing".

What if they want to excel, they want to have fun, but they feel intimidated by a more versed player, in his element?

In fact, if the versed player is giving orders to the point of controlling a character, they could even be feeling like their characters aren't even their own. Yes, that's a choice they can make... But what if they're uncomfortable with the whole issue, or nonconfrontational?

Then we have a situation like the above where there IS a problem, and it needs resolving.

Keeping that control in character is one step. Then it's not "Bob, have your guy do this". It's "Ragthar shouts, 'Elendil! Web the doorway', before rushing to engage the orc."

At that point is ceases to be, "my friend told me to do something, and I don't know".... and starts being roleplaying.

Cubey
2009-05-24, 06:44 AM
This is reasonable advice, and pretty much what I was advocating as well.

My advice was to help the two other players play DnD better (we'll leave semantics on what is "better" or "worse" for later never). It must be obviously done in a way that won't insult or belittle them, that wouldn't help or make the game fun at all. So, no direct OOC orders, or better yet, no orders at all - just hints or answering questions when they ask themselves.

derfenrirwolv
2009-05-24, 07:30 AM
I think the folks here are getting hung up on the word "power gamer" By most peoples standards they're not even CLOSE to that.

ericgrau
2009-05-24, 08:37 AM
Just limit the outside books or allow material from them on a case by case basis, doing google searches for info on them if necessary. Converting turn attempts is fairly powerful, for one. Working with him on remaking his character to trade such abilities for others is probably the way to go.

He may not be breaking the game, but he does have an unfair advantage over the rest. Part of the fun is role-playing but part of the fun is also overcoming challenges the best you can. If he's pulling his punches or you're pulling them for him then that isn't happening. Limit his options to be more similar to the other players' options in strength and let him optimize within those bounds.

warmachine
2009-05-24, 08:53 AM
As others have pointed out, the problem is a good, serious gamer amongst casual gamers. I think the solution is to make an in-game reason why the serious character is under siege and, thus, the casual characters have to cover for him and thereby save the day. You haven't explained the setting but if it's medieval, the following should be adaptable.

An unholy alliance of evil churches have being influencing the nobility for years and have manufactured a smear campaign that the player's church are in league with devils. Then devils start showing up and the player's church gets the blame. Perversely, it is really the evil churches that are responsible.

Despite a counter-propaganda campaign, reaction to the player's church ranges from suspicion to outright church burning. The evil churches and various nobility are using this distraction to increase their power and operations. The world is slowly going to hell in a hand basket, complete with the occasional devil.

With the player's church under siege and the government and other churches corrupted or distracted, it is up to independent teams, such as the players, to overthrow evil operations and convince individuals of the truth.

I reckon this will work because, as a hate magnet, the serious gamer will be forced to engage with the casual players. The serious gamer will want to do the heavy thinking but he can't afford to draw attention to himself, so he has to use the other players as front men. The casual players are likely playing indifferent characters, so the serious character has to convince them to help him and make concessions. Having reports that the casual character's home towns are in trouble may give them motivation. Worse, in combat, the enemy often recognise the holy symbol and target the serious cleric. Those behind the evil conspiracy will target him as a danger to the conspiracy. The cleric will be forced to retreat and let the other characters to exploit the enemy's poor tactics.

As a strategist, the serious gamer will like the open-ended propaganda war. Make sure there are doubting NPCs who can be discovered and convinced with physical evidence or removal of problems. The casual players will have fun haphazardly looking for likely candidates and bumbling the approach. As a tactician, the serious player will know the enemy's targetting of him is a poor tactical choice and can maneuver the other players to exploit this. The casual players will think it's funny that they have to save his butt a lot.

only1doug
2009-05-24, 09:01 AM
I cannot find words to express how strongly I agree with the first half of your post...

and how strongly I disagree with the last.

This issue is NOT the fault of the experienced player, true.
It's also not the fault of the casual players.

It is a difference in playstyles, which results in an imbalanced game. This isn't a case of "banhammer on the good player"... But it's also not a case of "suck it up, Nancy-boy" on the casuals.

There is a factor that's not being accounted for, by those who seek to lay blame on either the good player, or the casual player...

This is a gathering of friends, more than anything.

Telling the casuals, "sorry, your fault. Get more serious or suck it up...."

That doesn't help. Whether it's true, or false, or whatever... The OP has a vested interest in making sure everyone has fun, and that's the issue.

The philosophy on "no right to complain"... That alienates players, gamers, and friends. This is a social hobby. I'm sure solutions that enhance that social experience are more desired than ones that lay blame.

+1

I also agreed with Knaight's post (and would of posted something similar if he hadn't posted).

I was going to suggest a few private words with the serious player (but it seems the OP already had them).
I would mention that the goal as GM is to ensure that everyone has fun and state that the serious players superior RPG skills were making the game less fun for the newer players who needed to learn at their own pace. (people take compliments much better than criticism).
I would ask the serious player for suggestions on how to even up the game and suggest the 2 level "handicap" to even up the score. (you are so much better than them that you need to be 2 levels lower for them to even equal you!).

I'd also throw some silence or deafness spells at the party. "sorry, no instructions, they can't hear you."

Good luck, Have Fun.

Xuincherguixe
2009-05-24, 09:31 AM
Couple things.

First off, sounds to me like it's not that you have a problem with a powergamer, you have a problem of that one person is better at D&D than the others.

He's demonstrated an ability to compromise, and willingness to work with others. Frankly, you've got just about the best sort of player there you could ask for. Expecting more out of him, as some of the other posters seem to be is pretty unreasonable.


I would in theory suggest you have him help optimize the other PCs. But that would require more commitment out of them. Which may not be a bad idea to begin with.

The other possibility, is to switch to another game. I'm a Shadowrun guy myself, which isn't the worst choice for going casual, but probably not the best either. That rule book is pretty big after all. It is fairly good at involving the players though. I'm kind of mixed opinion on SR as an option. Because while the rule set is big, it's fairly intuitive. The Players don't need to know as much as they do in D&D. But at the same time while the game is more supportive of creativity and involvement, it doesn't actually give players those traits. You kind of have to know how to draw it out.



Also. The thing about D&D, is that it's a game basically built for strong systematizers. It's loosened up a bit, but it's definitely still there. What I mean by that is, the kind of person who might make a good computer programmer. And it's not strictly a math thing. We tend to get a hard time for being strong systemizers. It's part of why D&D has such a bad reputation. I don't particularly like the game mind you, but I know that I am pretty much the target audience.

Thing about the game is... you're pretty much expected to optimize it, but it also doesn't handle optimization all that well either. Some classes are so much better than others. Simply being a Cleric can be enough to overshadow the other players.

It also doesn't help when you get looked down on for making an optimal character. I'm not talking about full on abuse, I'm talking about taking superior options, and making better choices.

It seems like, there's this expectation of that one has is to play smart, but heaven forbid they play too smart! It's like creative problem solving skills, and the ability to understand abstract systems makes you less of a person. But my fury at anti intellectualism is a rant for another time.


Be glad you have this player, and make sure to keep him involved. When you think about it, he is the one most involved himself. I'm going to say that your best option is to have him help the others optimize the others PCs. It's entirely possible that the game is intimidating them, if they are made to understand a bit better how it works they might become more involved.

Mordar
2009-05-24, 12:49 PM
I don't know what your strawman argument is, but it's nothing to do with what I wrote. And where's the min-maxing?

The player is making effective use of feats and spells (and not, apparently, using any broken ones either), is using good tactics, and is the best roleplayer. The player is, indeed, doing well. Doing best, even. Mastery of the rules is part of playing a RPG.

You clipped the post-script where I specifically indicated that the character discussed by the OP is probably not (or even very likely not) min/maxed. The point being made, however, is directly tied to what you wrote...you said "Why is the person who is doing well the one who needs to be dealt with?" when someone stated "If an individual is detracting from the fun, they need to be dealt with."

Like I said, I agree with much of what you have written, but your response to that point appeared from my perspective to be "The player who is the most effective and defeating the monsters/obstacles regardless of methodology is doing well, even if the group's enjoyment is adversely impacted". This, and your other comments about "Mastery of the rules" and suggesting that "powergaming" is the only option when playing with real epic heroes reinforced my opinion that you were in the camp that feels D&D is "winable" and that winning is a byproduct of character optimization.

This is not a straw man - I was not (and feel I am not) intentionally misrepresenting your perspective or position and, in fact, am not trying to rebut the majority of your points. It was, if anything, a tangent to the discussion.

Again, with the exception of that point, I also indicated that I agreed with you - particularly in regards to helping bring the other players up instead of quashing the cleric-player. Clearly, given your comments on the importance of the RP element/core of the game, you're don't feel that optimization is the end all of the game and are more centrist than many of the "Win D&D" camp. My point was not an attack or even rebuttal towards you or your other points, just a statement of my opinion that being optimized doesn't instantly equate with playing D&D well (nor does it automatically indicated that you are playing D&D poorly).


I disagree. Playing well could mean "successful at accomplishing his goals and objectives".

I don't think it necessarily implies someone is "winning D&D", any more than one says Bill Gates is "winning life". It all depends on the standard you judge by.

My opinion? You can win D&D. Absolutely. If everyone enjoys the game, you win. Living, dying, good, evil, rules, story... Meh. Playing a game is about having fun. If you've done that? Congratulations, you've got it down good.

Talic, I agree completely with the spirit of what you've typed, if not the letter. You must remember, however, that the original element to which I was responded was related to the need to deal with a person that was "detracting from the fun" and the response indicated above about punishing the person doing well. Its my position that if the game isn't enjoyable it doesn't matter how mechanically effective a character might be. You can win a basketball game, a chess match or a race without having fun - have clearly deliniated victory conditions. You can't win D&D like that and viewpoint that you can, in my opinion, is simply an inverse of the Stormwind issue.

In an effort to make this not a completely useless hijack, I recommend that if the OP's group wants to continue to play D&D and not run off to another system that they should consider this:

Start fresh characters, limited to the core books. It made for an enjoyable switch for one of my campaigns (player, not DM) and it felt like a weight was lifted. Sure, it was a little "retro" I guess, but it was tons of fun...and this from someone who owns virtually all the splats in glorious hardcover. The experienced player still can have tons of fun and the newer players wouldn't be overwhelmed by endless choices and options.

- M

#Raptor
2009-05-24, 01:59 PM
From your description I'd guess a cleric that has Divine Metamagic: Persistent Spell, and took Extra Turning a few times (or he uses nightsticks... wich essentially are alot stronger).
Stats probably looking something like this:
Str: decent
dex: medicore/low
con: decent
wis: high
cha: mid to high

Even if he only uses DMM:Persist for Righteous Might and Divine Power I can easily see him being stronger than a unoptimized pure fighter.

One thing you could suggest to him is persisting spells that buff the party, instead of only him (such as righteous might of the faithfull, from spell compendium).
If Divine Might is giving you a problem... once they have to crawl through some thight space he'll have to turn it off.

And I strongly agree with the 2 previous posters - let him help the other players with theyr optimizing.
For the wizard that will probably be enough to bring him up to power.
The fighter.... well, maybe, maybe not.
One thing you could consider, is allowing your weaker players to make gestalt characters. If they still really need a massive boost in power, after all the other measures.
Have the wizard player read this: Being Batman: the Logic Ninja's Guide to Wizards (http://http://www.giantitp.com/forums/showthread.php?t=104002)

You might want to let them rebuild theyr characters, especially the fighter.

AgentPaper
2009-05-24, 02:36 PM
How has nobody suggested trying 4th edition yet? It seems like the perfect answer. The good player can optimize all he likes, and while he'll be more powerful than the others, he won't be able to end combats nearly so quickly and easily as he could in 3.5. And your other players sound like they would have an easier time with it too, since choosing "cool" powers will more likely than not make them a perfectly viable character more often than not. The serious gamer gets to have his powerful character, the non-serious players can have their fun characters, you don't have to spend so much time and efforts building encounters, and everyone wins. Of course, this doesn't solve the RP issues, and it's completely possible you or they just won't like the system, but it's worth a shot at least. :smallwink:

Tsotha-lanti
2009-05-24, 02:42 PM
Holy heck, you're right. 4E allows for very casual gaming if you're so inclined, but the more serious player just doesn't have as many ways to get ahead of the others.

woodenbandman
2009-05-24, 02:46 PM
I suggest that you tell the player that he is overshadowing the rest of the party, that it is making encounters less fun. I did this at one point, but I realized that "hey, I'm owning everything WAY too much." So I rolled up a buffer character. Now I can min/max without everyone else being overshadowed. A totally min/maxed buffer is worried about min/maxing everyone else.

No need to attack him exclusively. If he won't roll up a buffer, though, that's probably the best bet. Don't be a douche to him, though.

Talic
2009-05-24, 04:23 PM
I would like to chime in AGAINST 'helping' the other players optimize their characters.

Discuss options, maybe, but I suspect the chief cause they're having a hard time having fun is because they feel like they're chess pieces, rather than chess players.

The solution is to let them make MORE choices, not less.

A solution along the lines of, "so, you want this guy to be all about fire. You like the Elemental Savant Prestige Class. Let me see how I can help."

"These are the feats and abilities you're going to need to get that class, so let's start with that. Would you prefer being a sorceror or a wizard? Here are the pro's and con's of each."

"Wizards(sorcerors) live and die by their spells. Now, since you can turn any spell into a fire spell, that gives you a lot of options. It's usually good to consider multiple ways to attack. Try for a spell or two that goes after their reflexes, one that you get to attack to hit with, and then, one that doesn't deal fire damage. After all, Scorching Ray and Orb of Fire don't do much to fire elementals. Pick a few more spells you may feel are useful or fun, and we'll go from there."

"Ok, we have a few skills and feats left over, let's look for things that could make your character better at what he does."

In all aspects of this conversation, you want to get feedback from the player. Show him to the sections he wants, offer suggestions and insight, but remember that it's his character, and he/she needs to make it his.

Partysan
2009-05-25, 07:20 AM
I definitely agree that helping the other players is the way to go.

Mechanically this is not too hard - you said that the cleric player knows most books, spells, feats etc. so just point out useful things to them that they probably don't know, e.g. the Searing Spell feat for the Pyromancer (lets fire spells do half damage against fire immune). The fighter likes to charge? Show him those feats that pump up the damage on his charges.
You won't get them to be optimised, but they can be more flexible and useful and, more important, better at what they seem to have fun doing. Maybe they will even become interested in what cool abilities still are hidden in the books.

Then there's roleplaying. That can be a bit harder, but still, many beginners can be fairly ok roleplayers in a short time.
(I have been playing as the experienced one in a group of beginners with a beginner DM and I helped the DM how to create atmosphere etc. He was quite talented and loved the game, and it was probably the best group I ever played in. At the moment I'm DMing a group of 5 interested beginners and they're doing well, too. Here's my experiences:)
- Always make sure to adress their characters IC and encourage them to answer IC as well. Feels akward for the first 2-3 times but quickly becomes a habit
- Don't play a comedy, but always put in some comic relief, so while the world as such seems real, there is always something to laugh about
- If they manage to have good IC conversations, reward them by getting better NPC reactions, more information etc.
- Put in little, sometimes recurring characters (and jokes) they can get attached to. A pub that over time becomes a "home base" between adventures and gets more famous with the group because they reside there and their trophies hang on its walls, they are friends with the owner and maybe the barmaid is one character's girlfriend... A merchant travelling between the towns that can be encountered every time they enter one (until they miss him if he is not there) and at first tries to cheat them etc...
- Show them the impact they have on your world. If they help someone, let him be grateful. If they rescue a couple or someone's love, let them be invited to the wedding and maybe even a child named after them. If they redeem a thief, let them find him working at some facility shortly after. If they refuse to help an attacked village, let them someday find the ruins and skeletons of the slaughtered ones. A roleplaying world is alive, show it to them! If they just talk to someone, don't say "he doesn't know anything about your enemy/quest/treasure" but let him tell something he may be thinking about at the moment. Let him just talk, joke, rant etc, just for fun (of course, in a way they can enjoy)
- Tailor small quests and rewards for each character individually. Maybe even homebrewed stuff, just because it's fun and fits the character

Your cleric player is the best help you could ever get for this. Let him talk IC to the others, ask him to give them opportunity to contribute to conversations etc.


Gotta go to university, but maybe I can think of more later.

Roderick_BR
2009-05-25, 11:22 AM
(...)
...Just look at literature: The Lord of the Rings, for example; Gandalf is a party member way out of the league of the others, so what did the DM do? Threw a frickin' Balrog at him! None of the other players would stand a chance against so mighty a foe, so it was let to Min-Max...sorry...Gandalf to deal with the beastie. Perfectly acceptable GM tool to give the party an out of depth encounter if one member is way beyond the curve...
More like, the DM took that player out of the game until the next session :smalltongue:

For the OP: If you already talked to him, asked him to slow down, and to not disrupt the game, give him an ultimatum. Or he stops, or he's out. You are doing your best to make the game fun for everyone. He doesn't have the right to be the only one having fun. If he's your and your group's friend, he'll understand.