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 Post subject: Any advice for dealing with a power gamer?
PostPosted: Fri Oct 26, 2012 9:24 pm 
Minotaur
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I recently started running games again after a long hiatus (since 2nd edition) and have a question. I'm running a Pathfinder game for 4 of my good friends and George a player that I met at a hobby shop I was gaming at for a bit. Before we ever started I gave everyone a copy of the house rules and a written summary of my DM style at what I like to see from my players. I like my players to put a little effort into their characters, give them a bit of a back story and think about who they are and what motivates them. To me it's more fun to play someone you like and care about plus it makes the threat of death a more realistic thing in game. I've played characters in the past that almost brought me to tears when they failed that crucial save at the wrong time. I excused the two new guys from this because they had a whole system to learn and could develop their characters in game. My problem is with George though, even though he has the most role playing game experience of all of us he is totally oblivious to the concept of "role playing". I told him it wasn't a big deal if he didn't want to write out a back story because that can require a good amount of time and effort but I suggested that during any free time he could think about who his character is and he seemed blown away by that very idea. He told me he has never put any thought into any of his characters in the past. Now that the party has a few sessions under it's belt it's becoming obvious to me that he is a power gamer and I even suspect he fudged his rolls when we were creating our characters in order to supe his guy up. It's a bit of a downer during the game where everyone else loves their characters and are developing a personality for them and he's playing a page of numbers and optimal feats. I would let this slide but his actions are starting to cause some grumblings with the other players especially after the last session where he made a few decisions that were questionable at best. A Few examples from our last session. He plays a fighter/sorcerer and he laid claim to a magical long sword that really would have better suited the pure fighter in the party. Then at another point in the game the heavy hitter of the party was trapped in a cursed iron maiden, while everyone else was brain storming how to save him George announced he wanted to check out the secret door they had discovered in the room and look for treasure. I told him as he peeked through the door he sees a passage way that extends thirty feet before curving out of sight thinking he would realize that it's a pathway that ventures further on into the dungeon and not a hidden treasure trove he would go back to helping the party. Instead he announced he goes off down the path leaving the party behind to deal with the trapped and as far as anyone knew possibly dying barbarian. Of course he ends up getting attacked by a grey ooze and the party now has to another problem to deal with. When I posted the recap of the session I made a point to focus on some of his actions hoping he would get the point when he read it. I was hoping for any ideas or suggestions from some other GMs or players on what might be the best way to approach this situation. Sorry for the long post.

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 Post subject: Re: Any advice for dealing with a power gamer?
PostPosted: Sat Oct 27, 2012 7:21 am 
Minotaur
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The quickest and easiest way would be to talk to him directly, tell him with all the required diplomacy that his way of playing should be... adjusted.

Now if you want to lead him to more roleplay with an "in-game" solution, I suggest having scenarios that involve a lot less fighting and a lot more diplomacy / mysteries / inquest.

Harder to be a power gamer when there is nothing to kill in sight...

Furthermore, reward the other players for their background by having plots, adventures, NPCs ... and loot, of course, tied to them.

Your power gamer will see the benefits of background and roleplay when the barbarian receive the powerful heirloom item, after a grand epic saga, which make a standard +1 sword pale in comparison.

If you can make him understand that background + roleplay = loot then you should suddenly see him produce something ;)


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 Post subject: Re: Any advice for dealing with a power gamer?
PostPosted: Sat Oct 27, 2012 10:58 am 
Enforcer
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I would suggest talking to him as well. Subtlety could even sound offensive to some people. I have a very similar situation in my hands and when we began i straight out told them that team spirit and putting the well-being for the team first was a prerequisite for playing. In your case, keep in mind that since you just started, it is easy to say "this type of play does not suit the particular troupe" instead of saying that he is doing something inherently wrong.
I understand you may not like conflict or the idea of people leaving the game, which he could do if he is easily offended, but if he spoils the mood for the rest and for you, it is better to talk to him right away.

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 Post subject: Re: Any advice for dealing with a power gamer?
PostPosted: Sat Oct 27, 2012 2:44 pm 
Minotaur
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I do reward extra xp for role playing and creative problem solving but he's more concerned with loot. The next arc of the current adventure path we are running starts off with a very role play heavy scenario as it has the pcs working as detective gathering evidence for the defense of a falsely convicted individual. I'll try talking with him some more and remind him that success in this game is a team effort. If he doesn't want to role play that's fine but he really needs to work on being more of a team player.

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 Post subject: Re: Any advice for dealing with a power gamer?
PostPosted: Fri Jan 11, 2013 2:00 pm 
Minotaur
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Kill his character.

Okay - but seriously, if he pulled that heading off on his own stunt in my game, he'd have to deal with whatever I had planned - by himself. I don't allow the use of out of character information in my games and I've waxed characters who do stupid stuff or go off on their own before, so I'm quick to do it again (and this is important) NO MATTER HOW IT IMPACTS THE GAME OR THE PLAYER. But I'm a by-the-die GM.

Another option is to put them into a scenario that does not allow a power gamer to shine. Social situations (meeting kings, masked balls, the like) or a mystery that cannot be solved by force or magic, but must be figured out.

Another option is to force him to role play. He won't give you a background or history? Bring in a brother/cousin/father/other relative and make him the center of a storyline that (again) can't simply be dealt with by power gaming.

Or you could just try a game like Call of Cthulhu where power gamers are pretty much useless.

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 Post subject: Re: Any advice for dealing with a power gamer?
PostPosted: Fri Jan 11, 2013 3:46 pm 
Lich
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Max_Writer wrote:
Kill his character.
I have found that doesn't work.

You really have to sit them down, (diplomatically) explain the situation, and give them the option of not continuing in your gaming group.
They have to want to change -- some will take up the challenge of role playing, and some will not. And you will have to watch their dies rolls to help them avoid the temptation to "backslide".

One thing you can do is roll up a (new) character together, but then give the character a special "edge" that requires some active role playing.
Perhaps they have family heirloom with a tragic personal cost to the player ("Hello, my name is Inego Montoya. You killed my sister, prepare to die!")
I have found that power gamers (even "reformed" ones) always feel that they need some sort of "edge" over the other characters... but that it need not be a cosmic-uber one that destroys all your plans and fun for the others. Channeling it, rather than barring it, can be a solution that allows for the inclusion of all.

Just my $0.02...

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 Post subject: Re: Any advice for dealing with a power gamer?
PostPosted: Fri Jan 11, 2013 11:10 pm 
Minotaur
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He seems to have improved over the last couple of games. Partly due to the fact that the barbarian he abandoned happens to be my best role player and his character now bears a huge grudge toward him for running off and leaving him behind. He decided his squishy sorcerer needs to stay on the good side of the 7 foot tall three hundred pound half orc barbarian. Also book two of this adventure path starts out very role play heavy so he's being forced out of his element and is starting to come along. He doesn't quite grasp it yet but I do see improvement. I've also been impressed with the progress of my two newbs. They have picked up the game mechanics quicker than I ever hoped and are starting to ease into the role playing aspect themselves. Despite a few problems with George early on this group is really about the best one I've ever been in.

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 Post subject: Re: Any advice for dealing with a power gamer?
PostPosted: Sun Jan 13, 2013 10:11 am 
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That is great! I hope for more news like that :D .

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 Post subject: Re: Any advice for dealing with a power gamer?
PostPosted: Mon Jan 14, 2013 9:11 pm 
Minotaur
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Our next game is Saturday I hope everything continues to improve, we're on the right track at the moment.

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 Post subject: Re: Any advice for dealing with a power gamer?
PostPosted: Tue Jan 22, 2013 8:58 pm 
Minotaur
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Had another real heavy role playing session this Saturday and my power gamer ended up leaving early. Not sure if it was the role playing or the fact one of my other players called him out on his loot hoarding.

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 Post subject: Re: Any advice for dealing with a power gamer?
PostPosted: Tue Jan 22, 2013 10:01 pm 
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Either way, it could be that things are drawing to a close. Perhaps you could ask him?

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 Post subject: Re: Any advice for dealing with a power gamer?
PostPosted: Tue Jan 22, 2013 10:55 pm 
Minotaur
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He messaged me the day after wanting to know the next game date and his new xp total, we godhanded his character since we weren't done playing. I couldn't really get a read on his feelings. I did have a discussion with the group after he left the game and they told me they really didn't want him to be in our next campaign. If he is willing to play this campaign out I'll let him because I do see some progress as a role player on his part even though it's not his play style and if he wants to move on to another group that plays more his style thats fine with me too, we have another guy waiting in the wings who wants to learn the system. I feel kinda bad for him because he was the odd man out in this group anyway. Everyone else in the group knew each other and were long time friends before the game, he was a guy I met a few times at the gaming shop that heard I was going to run a game and asked if he could join in.

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 Post subject: Re: Any advice for dealing with a power gamer?
PostPosted: Wed Jan 23, 2013 3:39 pm 
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Sounds like you're being very fair. And if he is making progress, I say you might want to ask opinions again at the end, they may have lightened up on him if they see progress too.

I would say to ask the other players to include him more, in this last part of the campaign, as that would probably help with his roleplaying, just to make this adventure keep being fun. I'm not there, I'm just adding this because often when folks know someone is leaving, they treat him worse than if they thought he was staying, and things can get unpleasant and undo the good you've done.


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 Post subject: Re: Any advice for dealing with a power gamer?
PostPosted: Wed Jan 23, 2013 8:52 pm 
Minotaur
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Thanks. It has been a long time since I last ran a game. I forgot it wasn't all just map making, die rolling and NPC playing.

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 Post subject: Re: Any advice for dealing with a power gamer?
PostPosted: Thu Jan 24, 2013 1:40 am 
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Not sure if it will work exactly, but see if you can get one of the other players to have their character get into an argument slash discussion with his.. the half-orc maybe. They just need to make it obvious that it's in-character and only take in-character responses as an answer, maybe have them ask what his parents do/did for a living or something, something everybody would know the answer to and wouldn't have a reason not to. it could at least give a little bit of background information on him.


if not, maybe introduce an NPC who knew his character from before the adventure, try and casually introduce elements of his boackstory to him if he won't come up with his own, see what happens.


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