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  1. - Top - End - #1
    Halfling in the Playground
     
    HalflingPirate

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    Default difficult player, what to do?

    i've been playing for years now, mostly with this one friend of mine, we'll call him jack (which is actually my name), with him as the DM and a revolving group of other friends. now, i've decided i'd like to try my hand as the DM so he can play a bit.

    so i said to him that once the campaign we're playing is over, I'd like to start a campaign, and that I'm thinking about all the stuff I'd like to do in it, and he should start thinking about what he'd like to play, so i can maybe plan around that a little. yes, i was planning on making it a story mainly about he and my girlfriend's characters (a paladin and a pixie-hilarity ensues).

    a week later, jack tells me he has made a character, and is ready to start playing. and that he is too excited about his character to continue planning games for us, and that i should just start my campaign. now, at this point I have an idea of what i might like to do, but i havn't actually DONE anything. but whatever, i say, let's play. so we start. we play a couple games, and jack's character dominates. he kills EVERY monster in every fight, being the only one (besides me) who knows how to optimize a character. and then he starts talking about how he needs a rod of quickening to REALLY make his max work out.

    so i tell him no. i'm going to wait until some of the other characters level up a little, and see how things work out, and when the party gets a little more balanced (AKA it isn't just the Jack Show), yeah, no problem, he'll get it.

    and he quit.

    he said that what is fun for him about the game is maxxing out his character, finding an interesting rule to exploit and taking it as far as possible. in this case, a paladin/cavalier who is charging and doing a LOT of damage. he wants the rod of quickening for protection from evil for his pegasus, and for true strike for his charges (all of which was going to be converted into damage, at x5 (for charging)). not having the rod makes it so he isn't MAXXING out his character, and that takes away 100% of the fun for him. or so he says.

    the problem is, he just is not balanced with the other players. I'm coaching them through making their characters, and none of them are bad, but they just are not on that level, and it's really quite boring to watch a guy fly around on a pegasus and kill all the monsters.

    on the other hand, the main reason i even wanted to DM was so he could have a turn playing. but now he's not even playing. we've gone though several games without him, and the campaign is progressing well, but it just really sucks that he isn't playing. every time he's around when we are playing, he makes some passive-aggressive joke about how one of the other characters should buy a rod of quickening and give it to him. or how he should have been silent and secretive about his maxx so i wouldn't know it was so powerful and unbalancing, which is AGAIN the opposite of what i want.

    basically, i want the party to be of relatively even optimization levels, and he does not think thats reasonable. from his point of view, if I 'artificially' control the power levels of the characters (try to make them balanced), then i'm both making the characters AND the baddies, and therefore am on a powertrip, controlling every aspect of the game. there is, apparently, no point in him even trying to make a character, because i'm just gonna 'retroactively police his max'.

    what should I do?
    I am revenge. I am the night.

  2. - Top - End - #2
    Dwarf in the Playground
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    Default Re: difficult player, what to do?

    Unfortunately it sounds like "Jack" just needs to accept that you are not running a campaign where power-gaming is the goal. If he's not willing to accept that simple fact then there really isn't a place for him at the game.

    It may be a sympton of just acting as DM for many years and not playing. I myslef have actually played in probably less than 10 in-person session but have DMed probably hundreds over the years. It's difficult to go from being able to make the rules and shape the world as you want it to being confined to just a single limited character.

    I don't know if when he was DMing that his NPCs were built to the max either or if he did so by ignoring or changing the rules since he was the DM (which is fine) and that now that he is constrained by rules he wants to see how broken he can make his character without technically breaking the rules.

    Either way, he just needs to act a little more mature it seems and let everyone have fun at the table. It'd be better to lose one bad player than to give him concessions and risk everyone else quitting in frustration.

    Hope that helps.

  3. - Top - End - #3
    Ettin in the Playground
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    Default Re: difficult player, what to do?

    Personally what I do for that urge is take the freaking worst race/class combo I can find and optimize it. Tell him this is the perfect time to play a monk, as a challenge. Maybe put some extra restrictions for him to optimize within. If he takes it, cool. If not, well there's really nothing you can do.

  4. - Top - End - #4
    Bugbear in the Playground
     
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    Default Re: difficult player, what to do?

    The OP's post, summarized for low attention spans:
    My friend (who we'll call Jack) and I have been playing tabletop games for a long time. I volunteered to GM the next game, thinking Jack might enjoy being a player for once, and he was very thrilled by the idea.

    We're several games into the new campaign and Jack is blatantly playing an Ubercharger on a flying pegasus mount. When I had to say that he couldn't have the specific magical item he wanted RIGHT THIS SECOND to become the best, most min-maxed character he could possibly be, Jack quit the game.

    We've kind of continued on without him, but he's being really passive-agressive about the fact that he isn't playing anymore. He states that I'm in the wrong for 'artificially controlling power levels.'

    What should I do?
    Anyway, I second WarKitty's response. His character was a known and well-used 'broken' build, he just wanted to be the big man at the table and show off his superiority to everyone else. Tell him there's no challenge involved in building an ubercharger, and that if he really wanted to feel self-satisfied with his min-maxing abilities, to tackle a harder class.

    That said, passive-aggressive bull is indicative of feelings of resentment that won't just 'go away' in time. This is something the two of you need to sort out.
    Last edited by Dust; 2010-10-06 at 11:07 PM.

  5. - Top - End - #5
    Troll in the Playground
     
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    Default Re: difficult player, what to do?

    If he's like that, then let him stay out of the group. You don't need those sorts of issues at the table or you may find that other players will leave.

    And if he asks to come back, you need to remind him that YOU are the DM, not him. If he doesn't like the way you DM, then you aren't forcing him to play.

    The way I see it, it's nothing to do with his class, build or whatever. He's just used to having things his own way as a DM, but we've all been there.
    Last edited by Katana_Geldar; 2010-10-06 at 11:32 PM.
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  6. - Top - End - #6
    Bugbear in the Playground
     
    Kaun's Avatar

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    Default Re: difficult player, what to do?

    as with all problem players i find the easiest solution is hitting them over the nose with a rolled up news paper untill they stop what ever they are doing that is a problem.

    That or spraying them in the face with a water pistol every time they act up.
    Last edited by Kaun; 2010-10-06 at 11:54 PM.
    Aside from "have fun", i think the key to GMing is putting your players into situations where they need to make a choice that has no perfect outcome available. They will hate you for it, but they will be back at the table session after session.

  7. - Top - End - #7
    Barbarian in the Playground
     
    Ozreth's Avatar

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    Default Re: difficult player, what to do?

    You guys have been friends and playing d&d together for years and something like this happened that easily?

    Sounds like you dont need the guy around anyways. Your game will prosper without him.
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  8. - Top - End - #8
    Bugbear in the Playground
     
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    Default Re: difficult player, what to do?

    Theoretical Optimizers are not fun people to play with at the table.

    If he cant tone it down and play the game as it was meant to be played, not as a thought experiment, then it would be best to let him go. Your other players will likely thank you.
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  9. - Top - End - #9
    Barbarian in the Playground
     
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    Default Re: difficult player, what to do?

    I think someone once posted this as a solution to a similar problem.

    Talk with the other players, have their consent and make the following session: Have him kill everything. Dragons falling from the skies, slaying whole tribes of giants, nobody else does anything except buff him, or give him flanking bonus. Have all players, if possible, telling him how great he is, without being cynical/sarcastic. If he doesn't get bored of 8 hours of that you shouldn't worry, he's hopeless. Also if you make the rolls in secret have him hit all the time. Double his crit range.

    Or you could make dungeons where a pegasus is not a viable mount. Cramped spaces, buildings, dense forests, stuff that lower his effectiveness.

    That's my 2c.

    P.S. In my groups (both as a player and a DM) we don't mind if the warblade/warmage/wizard kill all opposition in one round, before our initiative.
    Last edited by Kaww; 2010-10-07 at 02:25 AM.

  10. - Top - End - #10
    Orc in the Playground
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    Default Re: difficult player, what to do?

    If you actually are running a game so your friend can play it, play it his way.
    I understand him sitting out, the frustration to be restricted by a game master after the game has started are,well, frustrating.
    Would you stop the other players to buy a rod of quicken? If no, I understand him too well.
    Did he restrict you when he was gm?
    My opinion are that restrictions should apply to all players, not just one.

    I have quit games myself because of restrictions. Only advice I can give are to choose the guys and gals you gonna play with all are on the same page when it comes to min\maxing.

    There is nothing wrong with you as a gm imo, but I understand your friend too well.If you let him into the game again, he will probably lay low power wise until things hit the fan and then he will unleash a can of whoop ass. He will just hide his power until needed. That is what i would have done. And I have done it. The sad thing is that will probably destroy the game for the other players. I i were him, I would rather sit out than to be restricted to nothing while the other players can do as they want. If you let him in you will probably ruin the group... Its a lose lose situation.

    For myself, I am happy i have fun being a gm

  11. - Top - End - #11
    Banned
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    Default Re: difficult player, what to do?

    Quote Originally Posted by heymejack View Post
    what should I do?
    Carry on running without him. It sounds like he is detrimental to the group. Find a replacement and have fun. If the rest of the group are enjoying it, keep going.

    He's not going to change the way that he plays, and your other players are not going to enjoy playing with him.

    Some friends shouldn't be gaming friends. Not wanting him in your game doesn't make him less of a friend. If he wants to be a jerk about it and make it a 'friend issue', then maybe he's not such a great friend after all.

    It sounds like he's better off playing Counterstrike with Wallhack running. He seems to have this rather immature urge to be the 'best' at the table, while totally failing to grasp that searching for 'ubercharger build' on Google and using it when playing amongst non min-maxxy players is just more than a little pathetic.

  12. - Top - End - #12
    Firbolg in the Playground
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    Default Re: difficult player, what to do?

    Quote Originally Posted by Sewercop View Post
    I i were him, I would rather sit out than to be restricted to nothing while the other players can do as they want.
    I'm not sure how "since you're already so effective in combat that you're killing every monster in every combat and leaving the other players with nothing to do, I'd rather you not become even stronger by getting this new item" can fairly be construed as being "restricted to nothing".

  13. - Top - End - #13
    Troll in the Playground
     
    WhiteWizardGirl

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    Default Re: difficult player, what to do?

    It does sound a lot like he wants to "win D&D". I'd really advise talking to him once more, point out that D&D is a team game and that while he may enjoy "getting his maxx" on, that detracts from the enjoyment of others. Perhaps suggest he try to optimize in a less cheesy and more party friendly way. Remind him that the game is not "all about him".
    BEEP.

  14. - Top - End - #14
    Ettin in the Playground
     
    Kobold

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    Default Re: difficult player, what to do?

    Let him ditch game. If he finds that he misses it and eventually comes back maybe he'll realize that he actually liked the game without being fully maxed out.

    However, if you feel like being a jerk about it, here are some suggestions (not that I advocate being a jerk about it):

    Let him have his rod of quickening. But give them low level encounters. He'll one shot a kobold every round. Good for him.

    The other option is to give him what he wants and then give the other players more. Give Jack the quickening rod and then tell him that Steve's build needed a complete set of +5 stat tomes and a gestalt character to be happy. Since Jack was already maxed out he should be content :-P
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  15. - Top - End - #15
    Pixie in the Playground
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    Default Re: difficult player, what to do?

    What happened to Dms being able to say "No" to an over-optimized character, or a character/player who doesn't fit with the group? Seems like 95% of these "difficult player" threads can be solved just by saying that.

    One of three things happens.

    1. He says ok, plays a less optimized character who meshes with the rest of the group, and all is well.
    2. He says ok, and then present yous with yet another overly optimized character to play. You say no again. He tries again. Repeat until he stops giving you overly optimized characters.
    3. He gets pissed off and quits playing with you. So be it. You can still be friedns outside of D&D. You can't pander to him at the expense of the other players.

    In conclusion, learn to just say no to things you don't want in your game. You're the DM. You can do that. It's really easy, and it works.

  16. - Top - End - #16
    Ettin in the Playground
     
    MonkGuy

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    Default Re: difficult player, what to do?

    Let him sit out until he shows interest in coming back. Then put it to him : "Look. I'm a GM. You're a GM. As GMs, it's our jobs to make things more fun for everyone in the game. Having three other people watch you one-shot encounters is fun for exactly one person. How can we 'maxx' your ability to help other people have fun?"

    As an aside.. I want to slap someone every time I see the word 'maxx' used as though it's a real word. And that includes myself, when I use it.
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  17. - Top - End - #17
    Titan in the Playground
     
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    Default Re: difficult player, what to do?

    I think the situation resolved itself already. Let him drop off and continue without him, or switch back to him DMing (I assume he's a better DM than he is a player).
    Last edited by Tengu_temp; 2010-10-07 at 10:25 AM.

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  18. - Top - End - #18
    Orc in the Playground
     
    AssassinGuy

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    Default Re: difficult player, what to do?

    The simple fact he is outright seeking to exploit rules and go balls-to-the-wall means he isn't going to be a good addition to any group synergy. It's going to be all about him or he isn't happy, the other players...and you, be damned.

    Carrying on without him is about the only recourse for you that will work really. Untill you two have a dialog about whats really going on, it will not get better. If he is back in the game he will just snipe snipe snipe about it and do his passive-agressive thing. You didn't make the game FOR HIM, you made the game so he could be ONE of the PCs.

    All in all, this all could have been averted by reviewing the characters before the game starts, even better you could have laid some ground-rules before-hand instead of throwing it against the wall and seeing what happened (if thats what you did.)

    No sense in him ruining it for everyone.

  19. - Top - End - #19
    Bugbear in the Playground
     
    Beholder

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    Default Re: difficult player, what to do?

    You should let him have it, but send at him a monster he can't kill... say, a swarm. And let the other characters shine as they deal with it, and have him be useless. He shouldn't complain, he's maxxed out and fun with having the highest numbers, and everyone else gets the spotlight.
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  20. - Top - End - #20
    Halfling in the Playground
     
    HalflingPirate

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    Default Re: difficult player, what to do?

    thanks, all. i think the main problem is that I didn't make ALL the rules/the way i wanted the game to go clear before we started. not my fault, since I planned to start six months from now instead of now, but now I know for next time, and will have very specific guidelines for making the pc's.
    I am revenge. I am the night.

  21. - Top - End - #21
    Dwarf in the Playground
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    Default Re: difficult player, what to do?

    Sounds like "Jack" is an immature, narcissistic, nerd-raging loser. Anything that gets him out of your life would probably be a good idea. But then, I have a pretty low tolerance for self-absorbed drama queens so...

  22. - Top - End - #22
    Firbolg in the Playground
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    Default Re: difficult player, what to do?

    Quote Originally Posted by KiltedGrappler View Post
    What happened to Dms being able to say "No" to an over-optimized character, or a character/player who doesn't fit with the group?
    Nothing. That's just what the OP did. It's just that, since said player was the one for whose sake he was originally going to run the game, he'd like to find another solution.

  23. - Top - End - #23
    Ettin in the Playground
     
    Kobold

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    Default Re: difficult player, what to do?

    Quote Originally Posted by KiltedGrappler View Post
    What happened to Dms being able to say "No" to an over-optimized character, or a character/player who doesn't fit with the group? Seems like 95% of these "difficult player" threads can be solved just by saying that.
    Part of the problem is that Jack isn't used to being a player. He's usually the GM. GMs are used to getting what they want. I know several gamers whose personality makes them decent GMs but terrible players, and it wouldn't surprise me if Jack is another one of those.
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  24. - Top - End - #24
    Dwarf in the Playground
     
    Griffon

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    Default Re: difficult player, what to do?

    *laughs* I had to doublecheck to make sure you weren't my GM. We have a player very much like the one you describe.

    He loves making over-the-top, ridiculously overpowered characters. And sometimes that's ok - it's fun, it's funny, and he's good at it. When he's the one running the game, it can lead to memorable NPCs and interesting monsters. Even as a fellow player it can sometimes be fun to watch his overpowered antics - the problem comes in longer-running games. Not everyone has fun in the same way; the rest of us don't always enjoy making the most broken, min-maxed character possible, but y'know... once in a while we'd like to kill a monster too.

    In most situations I'd agree with the other posters here. Your friend is overreacting - badly - and not willing to compromise. You have the choice between letting him break your game, or letting him quit. Let him quit. As the GM, you absolutely have the right to make sure all your players will be able to enjoy the game. If one player is telling you he can't enjoy it without making it un-enjoyable for everyone else, well... that's his problem.

    But on the other hand... you did say you're running the game so that he can play it. And if he usually GMs, he may be seeing this as the only chance he'll have for a while to sit on the other side of the table. Someone who powergames every time and will never adjust his playstyle is a problem, but he may legitimately be feeling, "Why can't I just let loose and go wild for a change?"

    So here's my suggestion. From what you're describing (coaching them through making their characters, etc.) it sounds like the other players are not very experienced. Also, you started early, so a lot of these characters were probably made on the fly. Talk to the other players, and see if they'd be willing to do a character re-write. (You could even come up with a cool in-game reason for it - maybe the group wins the favor of a minor deity, or maybe even have each character go on a personal side-quest of some kind - something to justify Taking a Level in Badass.) Then, tell your friend he is welcome to come back to the game (and, yes, he can have his Rod of I Win Now) - but first, he has to sit down with you and each of the other players and show them how to optimize their characters too. That way, he gets to REALLY exercise his min-max muscles (if he's like a lot of powergamers I know, he'll probably think Christmas has come early), he gets to play the powerful build he wants, and the rest of the party is now strong enough to hopefully keep up and not just watch him swoop in and kill stuff. And you get to keep your friend in your game. Sure, you get a cheesier game than you originally planned for, but that's not necessarily a bad thing. Just up your own power level in response.

    There's also some other tricks you can use in addition to that (for instance - a tag-team pair of monsters, one flying, one on the ground - guy on a pegasus faces one of them all on his lonesome, and the rest of the group has to deal with the other), but the above suggestion is probably the closest to a win-win that you're gonna get.

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    ElfWarriorGuy

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    Default Re: difficult player, what to do?

    My guess is you don't want to lose Jack as a friend, while being unable to DM for him and the other players at the same time.

    Consider playing a one-on-one campaign with him. Just you (DM) and Jack (player), and no other players. He can go all-out because, yes, it IS all about him. As DM, you will still control the power balance, because you can just scale up the difficulty of encounters accordingly. And if he has need of things other players would usually provide (e.g. healing, high skill ranks, arcane magic), have him hire NPCs for that who require significant payment and won't accompany him on adventures like other players would. (And don't allow these NPCs to become semi-permanent "party members", because they might be reduced to the status of free Cohorts, or worse, DMPCs.)
    This way, Jack gets to play, and he does not overpower any other players.

    If you are up for DM-ing two stories at the same time, then the problem is solved.
    If you can't, then wait for your current campaign to run its course, and then have Jack be DM for everyone else again, while you DM just for him. And arrange this with him beforehand, of course.

  26. - Top - End - #26
    Troll in the Playground
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    Default Re: difficult player, what to do?

    Quote Originally Posted by KiltedGrappler View Post
    What happened to Dms being able to say "No" to an over-optimized character, or a character/player who doesn't fit with the group? Seems like 95% of these "difficult player" threads can be solved just by saying that.
    I mean I gotta wonder this too. Do most people not give the DM their characters to inspect before playing? Or do most DMs just not realize how bad things will get? Most games I've played in the DMs are more than willing to make you ret con something if we suddenly discover its broken. You don't simply "get away with it" and ruin the game.

  27. - Top - End - #27
    Halfling in the Playground
     
    HalflingPirate

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    Default Re: difficult player, what to do?

    this is the crux of the problem. no, he doesn't want to give me his character beforehand for inspection. before now we've played core only, and every time i mention another book that i've bought and gotten excited about this prestige class or that feat, he gets annoyed because it's one more book he has to read from cover to cover to exploit in as strong a way possible. while I see the huge number of extra books as a blessing with which to create infinite variety, he sees it as every single book just makes it possible for things to be more and pore powerful things, and if he doesn't use it all in the most powerful way possible, he isn't having fun. he doesn't want to play in a game where I control his power level in ANY way. and he doesn't see the merit in being balanced with the other players.

    so, yeah.

    we're just going to go on without him.
    I am revenge. I am the night.

  28. - Top - End - #28
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    Default Re: difficult player, what to do?

    I have three players like this, and one, sometimes two or three, that aren't. Needless to say, I am very interested in any and all solutions I haven't tried.
    If you are in my group, you can probably recognize yourself from the anecdotes and examples below, but I'm still changing the names to protect anonimity.

    One player, let's call him "Jacques" used a liberal interpretation of a feat to claim arcane casting ability so he could get into a PrC. Granted, I allowed it, having only skimmed the PrC in question, and unknowing of his plans to cast miracle without components 3/day. His characters have a tendency to maximize damage output at the expense of teamwork benefits. His characters are almost always played as CE, as in "how much will you pay me not to kill you today," but he accepts alignment shifts for actions committed. And he does follow basic rules about physics overruling RAW.

    Another player, who I will refer to as "Mr T." is similar, but does not want to follow physics if RAW would benefit him more.
    He also tried to get broken homebrew stuff accepted before I banned any sources not specifically authorized. He talked me into it the first time, with a subtly overpowered homebrew base class (The class was not broken until he became a necropolitan) before I understood the havoc he could wreak. I countered by giving levels of the base class to a monster, and we (the whole table) agreed that it was indeed overpowering. No more homebrew for him. He is still a theoretical optimiser and would rather one-shot an opponent with 650 maximized empowered twinned magic missiles as a standard action (I exaggerrate, but only barely) than let anyone else use their newfound loot or whatever. He also plays as CE, but comes up with flimsy justifications for why they should stay CG ("I'm telling you, attacking a group of children is totally chaotic, but not evil!") and does not accept fiat alignment shift well (granted the party had a paladin in it, but the other guy managed to hide and/or resist conversion to the faith). He also knows the item creation rules like the back of his hand, and can create wondrous campign-shattering gear (i.e. rod of infinite-use true ressurection, no components, usable by humans only to reduce price). He does not like not getting his way, and always looks for new evidence to change the verdict if the outcome is unfavorable to him.
    That said, he knows the rules better than anyone at the table, and is our long-time friend, so harsh measures are out of the question as he is considered indispensible.

    Lastly, we have the one I'll call "Duke." He is the most agreeable of the three, not trying to break the game, but still choosing just the right selection of feats, gear, and skills to make ubercharger builds like the OP, super-powered mages (he knows Spell Compendium better than I do), or CoDzillas, and finds ways to ignore obstacles. He last played a paladin/pious templar and killed a monster 10 CR above his level (with some help by an incomplete party). He does not break rules, always asks before trying something out of the ordinary, and explains his intentions for tactics. The hard part is, even knowing what he'll do, it's hard to challenge him. For a while the only damage I could do to his character was through a ring of friendship. In addition to this, he is a skilled roleplayer as well, and will act in character even when doing so is detrimental to him mechanically. These qualities, while making him a joy to play with, also make it hard to keep him from dominating the spotlight. I need to get him to tone it down without being mean.

    Most of other players either are sporadic enough in showing up for sessions not to care about this, but a regular one (we'll call her "Jill" actually considered dropping out of the campaign because all of the encounters were over before she could do anything, and she was feeling useless. I tried rememdied this with some solo quests and allowing her to play multiple charaters (the new one was a buffer, always useful), and this helped, but she still got very little time to shine. And she was playing a druid. Even when I resorted to Eigen plot, someone else managed to steal her parts.

    One thing I tried was to interrupt the main storyline with related one-shots against overpowered opponents and let them pick any insane build they wanted. Their regular PCs were still more powerful than the temporary characters.

    I don't want to go on without any of them, and I realize they are unlikely to change, so any advice on getting them to tone it down would be appreciated.
    Also, if you're reading this and belive it's you, try not to take this the wrong way. I love you just the way you are, but I think you should channel your powers into effective teamwork rather than effective one-turn-kills. Please, I know that being another player (and often DM) wife makes her unkillable and powerful in some campigns, but that doesn't mean "Jill" is content with a bit part in mine.

    TL; DR version: Three optimiser spotlight hogs, one mild optimiser and non-spotlight hog, trying to give them equal screen time.
    Last edited by Notreallyhere77; 2010-10-07 at 05:27 PM.
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    Default Re: difficult player, what to do?

    Quote Originally Posted by Notreallyhere77 View Post
    Long tale
    My advice would be to play a different game system instead of D&D, and to make sure that you know the rules better than any of your players.

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    Default Re: difficult player, what to do?

    Quote Originally Posted by Jornophelanthas View Post
    My advice would be to play a different game system instead of D&D, and to make sure that you know the rules better than any of your players.
    I'd say Hackmaster 4e if it didn't cost SO MUCH. Dx
    Quote Originally Posted by Hans
    Not again...

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