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Old 07-16-2009, 09:54 AM   #1
austinhaws
 
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Default Power Gaming and How To Thwart It

I see four main types of power gamers:
1 - knowing the rules and powers and choosing the best powers for your build (understandable after gaming for many years)
2 - scouring the internet for the most powerful character and making that character (maybe you should be playing a table top battle game)
3 - forcing your will on the DM so that all things turn to your good (bad for everyone)
4 - Those who stumble upon a power that ganks EVERYTHING (you did what?!)

So, what to do about it? and what other types are there?

I've seen a lot of #1 activity in my group but that's understandable as long as the character's build is the main theme and the powers fit in. #2 has come up and frustrated other players. #3 really sucked and was in the early days and has been solved by letting that player be DM and learning how bad the situation sucked. #4 happened to me and I abused it to the MAX! lol j/k
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Old 07-16-2009, 10:55 AM   #2
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Default Re: Power Gaming and How To Thwart It

I'm a Powergamer myself, And my first answer would be with a question "Why would you want to thwart it"

Power gaming is about feeling powerful. A powergamer does not need other to be weaker than them. They don't require their fun to be at the expense of the other players. Give everyone an equal chance to shine at what they trying to do and the nothing about powergamin that will inherenting disrupt the game.
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Old 07-16-2009, 11:04 AM   #3
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Default Re: Power Gaming and How To Thwart It

Personally, it comes down to what sort of game it is and how much of a gap there is between the power gamer(s) and the not-so-optimal-mechanically characters.

If everyone in the party is a power gamer and have characters that are balanced within the party, I'd probably go with it and challenge them as appropriate to their effectiveness. If the party is capable of rendering anything into a non-challenge, I may just ask if they'd rather tone it down or move on to something else and let them "win" the game.

If the power gamer is an outlier on the power curve for the party, as much as I hate doing it, and I've learned the hard way, the only thing to do is to ask them to tone it down a bit. If you do try to accommodate for the outlier(s), don't try to match force with force, especially in the number-crunchy systems. Figure out what the power gamer's "center of gravity" is, control that and redirect their destructiveness as best you can.

If you aren't set on a particular system, avoid the crunchy ones. DnD and SR, for example, are very crunchy systems with a lot of inertia behind the idea of "RAW IS LAW". GURPS can fall into this category as well since there's lot of little mechanical interactions to exploit, which are really up to the GM to decide if they are in effect but they exist in a book which is all a power gamer needs. Instead of crunchy systems, look to very generic and abstract ones, BESM if you want a point based system or Risus (and probably FUDGE though I haven't played that system) for a very free form system. The more abstract the "damage" (physical, social, whatever) is and the less complex the conflict resolution is, the better.

The most important question though is "is the power gamer making the game fun or not fun for the rest of the table".

Last edited by Suriyel; 07-16-2009 at 11:12 AM.
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Old 07-16-2009, 11:13 AM   #4
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Default Re: Power Gaming and How To Thwart It

1) Is no problem, so long as it fits the campaign. (In fact, it's much better than dysfuctional characters, like one with both Lecherous and Kleptomania.)

2) Can be reined in with a little research, a few houserules, and making the player establish a reasonable backstory.

3) and 4) are pretty much the same. No such power is going to be in the playtested core rules of a system. Those type of things are found on the internet, in magazines, in some third-party splatbooks, or (a significant percentage of the time) only in the imagination of the proposing player. <shrug> In either case, the GM isn't standing up for himself, his game, and his other players. (And let's not call these two catagories power-gamers. These are munchkins.)
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Old 07-16-2009, 11:13 AM   #5
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Default Re: Power Gaming and How To Thwart It

Provide a variety of challenges. A tweaked out combat monster will thrive in a game where combat is often the only viable option for solving problems; likewise, someone who is optimized to do something else will thrive in a game where whatever that 'something else' is is the only viable option for solving problems. I've found that providing a variety of situations and challenges is the best way to prevent someone from overshadowing the rest of the party. Being exceptional at one thing usually means that your skills are lacking in a different area.
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Old 07-16-2009, 11:36 AM   #6
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Default Re: Power Gaming and How To Thwart It

Quote:
Originally Posted by Suriyel View Post
If the power gamer is an outlier on the power curve for the party, as much as I hate doing it, and I've learned the hard way, the only thing to do is to ask them to tone it down a bit. If you do try to accommodate for the outlier(s), don't try to match force with force, especially in the number-crunchy systems. Figure out what the power gamer's "center of gravity" is, control that and redirect their destructiveness as best you can.
Most power gamer willing to tone it down as long as to don't require them to go so far far that the down get the feel of power any more.

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Originally Posted by Suriyel View Post
The most important question though is "is the power gamer making the game fun or not fun for the rest of the table".
And in the cases of 1) or 2) if this is casing problem because others feel they are lacking these skill in realizing their own characters, and are have problems shining with the primary abilities against others' secondary abilities, you can ask the person to help with pointers.
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Old 07-16-2009, 01:16 PM   #7
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Default Re: Power Gaming and How To Thwart It

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Originally Posted by roguebfl View Post
Most power gamer willing to tone it down as long as to don't require them to go so far far that the down get the feel of power any more.



And in the cases of 1) or 2) if this is casing problem because others feel they are lacking these skill in realizing their own characters, and are have problems shining with the primary abilities against others' secondary abilities, you can ask the person to help with pointers.
Trying to solve a power gaming problem with even more power gaming seems, to me, to be rather counterproductive.
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Old 07-16-2009, 01:27 PM   #8
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Default Re: Power Gaming and How To Thwart It

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Originally Posted by Suriyel View Post
Trying to solve a power gaming problem with even more power gaming seems, to me, to be rather counterproductive.
First off power gaming is not a problem. Secondly it a no power gaming solving power gaming it is an experience player with a knack show someone without the knack away to build what they wanted in the first place. So they can do their niche as well as they like. It Not a power gamers faul if the secondary abilities that the picked up not to let the team down by sucking at are being out shining someone that was disguised those abilities were meant to be primary in.
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Old 07-16-2009, 01:30 PM   #9
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The old discussions of gaming archetypes recognized that wargamers, storytellers, and roleplayers all had pathological excesses . . . but there seemed to be an assumption that all powergamers were pathologically excessive, or that this was the default state. So "power gamer" carries a negative load, as something that ought to be prevented, because it's assumed that power gamers will take things too far and spoil other people's fun.

I have in fact gamed with a couple of entirely benign power gamers, players who wanted their characters to bestride the world like colossi and were disappointed if they didn't get to be larger than life. They're not inherently any worse than roleplayers who want to be on center stage emoting and dialoguing and getting applause . . . except that the power gamer's character can often kill the roleplayer's character, where the roleplayer's character can make witty epigrams about the power gamer's character, which is a bit one-sided.

The real issue is how to get people not to spoil the game for other people. And that's not best addressed by out-power-gaming them, if that's where their problem lies. Often it's the very fact that they're forced into a power-gaming style of play that they dislike that makes other sorts of player resent the power gamer in the first place. And the power gamer is likely to be better at it! Rather, I think, you need to get the power gamer to understand that they're spoiling other people's fun and that people don't enjoy gaming with them as a result. And if they respond to that by changing their behavior, you can often find a way for them to have their jollies without being abusive of the process. On the other hand, if they don't see what that's a problem, then the only real answer is to uninvite them.

"If the government doesn't trust the people, why can't it dissolve them and elect a new people?" (The oldtimers here were just waiting for me to quote that, I'll bet. . . .)

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Old 07-16-2009, 01:46 PM   #10
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Default Re: Power Gaming and How To Thwart It

Quote:
Originally Posted by whswhs View Post
The old discussions of gaming archetypes recognized that wargamers, storytellers, and roleplayers all had pathological excesses . . . but there seemed to be an assumption that all powergamers were pathologically excessive, or that this was the default state. So "power gamer" carries a negative load, as something that ought to be prevented, because it's assumed that power gamers will take things too far and spoil other people's fun.

I have in fact gamed with a couple of entirely benign power gamers, players who wanted their characters to bestride the world like colossi and were disappointed if they didn't get to be larger than life. They're not inherently any worse than roleplayers who want to be on center stage emoting and dialoguing and getting applause . . . except that the power gamer's character can often kill the roleplayer's character, where the roleplayer's character can make witty epigrams about the power gamer's character, which is a bit one-sided.

The real issue is how to get people not to spoil the game for other people. And that's not best addressed by out-power-gaming them, if that's where their problem lies. Often it's the very fact that they're forced into a power-gaming style of play that they dislike that makes other sorts of player resent the power gamer in the first place. And the power gamer is likely to be better at it! Rather, I think, you need to get the power gamer to understand that they're spoiling other people's fun and that people don't enjoy gaming with them as a result. And if they respond to that by changing their behavior, you can often find a way for them to have their jollies without being abusive of the process. On the other hand, if they don't see what that's a problem, then the only real answer is to uninvite them.

"If the government doesn't trust the people, why can't it dissolve them and elect a new people?" (The oldtimers here were just waiting for me to quote that, I'll bet. . . .)

Bill Stoddard
Ok you lost me with this one. how is the power gaming spoiling their fun? if they are out Shining someone else nichie Why is automatically because of their own build an never some build somthign that was not as god at something they though it would be? Like some that take a weapon skill at 12 thinking it is 'pro fighter'?

Are they outshining because most the the challenges the party face is where that person is strong and those other weak the power gamer's fault?

This only time that a power gamer is the faul for spoiling other's fun is whe they use the abilities to actively hog all the spot lite... and that hardly a trait unique to power gaming, Storyteller can be ever worse than power gamers at this.
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