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This seems to be an issue. Power gaming, and what it is. At first I thought I understood what it was, but now it isn't so clear. It gets harder and harder to distinquish power gamers from 'regular' gamers. I have come to realize though, that the most important factor is the dm.
I have looked all over the place for dms around me (both in Cleveland and Rochester), and I still find examples of "the bad dm" however. This I know very well. You ARE a bad dungeon master if:
1. you limit which spells the pc's may learn*
2. there is too much importance placed on combat
3. you open each session with a phrase like "I AM GOD", or "Your in MY world now"
4. If a player asks you the name of an npc, because he forgot it, you won't tell him (because he should know)
5. If you have EVER done THIS: "just as you (comit any act the dm doesn't want the pc to, or starts doing something in their character actually would do even if its not very lawfull) a stone is throne from no discernable direction and hits you in the head for X hit points of damage"
6. the npc merchants (ESPECIALLY THE BAR TENDER) can never be defeated by the players.
7. Forgets that spells need spell components.
8. has ever started a session with the intention of killing one of the characters.
9. ask's you to bring extra character sheets to the game, just in case.
10. If you think the Challange Rating system doesn't match the players against hard enough challenges.
11. If you commonly have an npc join the group, so that you can be a character too.
12. if the story is really about the npc in the group, and doesn't have very much to do with the group itself.
13. If the dm allowes more than 8 players into a single group (even 8 is way too much, any higher is simply outragious)
14. If you can run a campaign that starts at lvl 20, as if it was a level 1 campaign (you think that the pc's should have the same difficulty as a lvl 1 character when they fight a given npc, like THE BARTENDER, so you curver there power enough that a cr 1 monster might be too much for them to handle.) you are doing too many things wrong for me to list here.
15. If your rogue can't seem to sneak past an encounter no matter what he does (there SHOULD be multiple ways of dealing with an encounter, even if it meens avoiding it)
16. You haven't read the entire dungeon masters guide.
If you do these things you might have a good reason for doing them, but in general this is the criterion for a bad dm. Many of the justifications for doing these bad dm habits is the atempt to curve power gaming, and encourage role playing. In trueth none of these things does either. They certainly don't encourage role playing, and I have yet to see them affectively end power gaming.
You don't have to JUST look at those items I listed though. If you wan't to be a good dm, here is what you do. You manage the game so that the focus is on the players, and try to let THEM have as much fun as possible. you shouldn't limit their powers, instead expect them to use their powers.
BADEXAMPLE: The group has to find a magical talisman to release the princess from her magical prison, only the group has the power to defeat the dragon who holds the talisman. Certain party members attempt to teliport, plane shift, turn etherial, and gasuious (some even transform into small insects), in order to gain entrance to the princess's prison, but for some reason the group can't bypass the walls of the princess's prison with any of these methods. They now have to fight a dragon who is ultimately a very small unnessisary part of the story.
GOODEXAMPLE: *shiver has to think for a moment*, ok a good example is when The princess needs to be rescued from another plane, and the only ones known to be able to plane shift are the party members. Its not just any plane either, its the elemental plane of water. Only the group members are powerfull enough that they would be equiped with the ability to travel in that plane and find her.
Notice that I said I had to think for a moment in the good example. Bad scenarios are very easy to think up. Good ones take a lot more thought. Before you bring a scenario to the table, look up what spells are available to pcs (or which spells they can pay some one to cast for them, don't hike the prices). Also, check what abilities the pc's have. Finnally, consider the groups involved, like npc's and such. The most important thing you should keep in mind for any given situation is "is this really necisary?" nothing is more annoying when your chasing down that evil wizard on the verge of lichdom than when you encounter an extremely lame road block like that magical door you can't get through (even though it is framed by a normal mundane stone wall).
A good dm shouldn't hear any complaints from his group about how one party member is power gaming. One great reason for this is because the group should be working together on everything, and so each member should be given a very previlant role in the world (no one should be worthless in combat). Another reason is because its the dm's job to balance some of these things. Now this is the hardest part, because I just explained that a dm shouldn't take away the power of the player.
The way you balance a power gamer is by making the campaign more role-playing oriented. If combat isn't the most important aspect of the game, than the power gamer will be forced to make their character well rounded. Also, people who are lvl 1 and have a character class should be exceptional. This meens that they are rare, and most people are around cr 1/2. If the evil wizards guards are cr 1/2 then the group won't gain experiance very quickly. If the group doesn't gain very much experiance, then they won't level up very quickly. If they don't lvl up very often, then they will be less concerned with their atributes. That same evil wizard might have a captain who is a lvl 1, 2, or 3rd lvl fighter, but unless its a really important person, they shouldn't be above 4th lvl (this is why the majoraty of the statistics for most of the named characters from novels in the forgotten realms campaign book are for lvl 4-10 characters.) If the average encounter is a low cr, then the characters don't need to be lvl one billion. At lvl 5, you can make the players feal like they are epic, and still expect them to be very limited in power. It is a very good sign when the lvl 5 mage in the party carries a sword, so that he can deal with the average thug without using magic (after all, the average thug is just a lvl 1 or 2 warior, the lvl 5 sorceror or wizard could have more hit points, and a better attack bonus than the thug).
READ THE DMG, it has a whole bunch of good examples on how the game should be run, and how to keep power gaming to a minimum.
If you think like this, you will never have a problem with power gamers in your group. This is why I can't be a player character, I haven't found any dms like this who live near me. My friends really enjoy my games, and I have as much fun running them. I would like to be a player, but any time I become one I run into all of these awfull habits dms have, and it sucks all of the fun out of the game. The same people I dm for tend to agree, and a couple who have cought onto my style have been successfull with it. I encourage more people to try what I have suggested, because it solves a lot of the problems that every one finds in the dungeons and dragons system without screwing any one over.
* This is a whole bunch of things. The resurection cleric spell is a good example. At 13th level and higher, not even death is enough to finnish off the pcs. That isn't a bad thing (they are the main characters after all). Other spells that dms don't like pc's to use include scry, or a lot of the divinations that will reveal whats on the others side of a wall, or the answer to a riddle. Fly is another spell dms like to take away. Reallistically even the fighter should have some method of flight by lvl 12 (or a little higher). Teliport spells, and plane shift spells are also really popular to take away, but I can't figure out why. If they are at a lvl when they can cast that spell, and they already meet the requirements for casting it (they have information on the destination, have all of the spell components), then most encountes on the way should be unnecissary. Also, I have noticed that some dms will allow npc's to cast spells that pc's cant. Thats just wrong.
i will tell you, I took the effort to read this post...not once over, but completly READ it..and I agree with you fully....I have a hard time playing in any other dm's games, bc the same problems you listed....the one thing I run into in my games though.....and I havnt figured out how to control it.....is the PC's abusing the same spells over...and over...and over...its gets annoying.....other than that, I try to balance the focus of the game, a lot of combat is good, but not if it doesnt have a story behind it. My favorite thing as a DM...I like to come up with unique and creative things for the players to encounter...Items, Monsters...traps...NPC's....etc etc...I try to keep switching it up, put them in situations that are totally new, make them thin, and adjust....to continue on in the game...and occassionally, the answer is as simple as 2 pc's working together, combining spells or abilities.....oh yeah, and I have a PC playing a bad guy, and they havnt figured it out yet, and I doubt they will till its kinda too late...put oh well...it should be an amazing plot twist when they do....but anyways, excellent post. Any advice/comments on what I said is appreciated...
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I agree with you in every way. however, I think you should realize that dnd was made for enjoyment, so it shouldnt matter how you play, only if you have fun doing it.
now, I have played with groups that abuse about 3/4s of your bad dm list. It was no fun for me, but everone else had a blast, it just goes to show that power gaming is not a problem, just a different way to play.
"Democracy is two wolves and a sheep voting on what's for dinner"
-Guns don't kill people, bullets do.-
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who was that?
<span style='color:purple'>"With my new body I have reborn yet again, and so history repeats itself."</span>
<span style='color:purple'>~The soul within, soultheif88</span>
nick and a few pickup groups at clarks.
I guess its kinda a lie that I had no fun, but I didnt have fun because I was playing dnd...
"Democracy is two wolves and a sheep voting on what's for dinner"
-Guns don't kill people, bullets do.-
-Support your local game store! Don't buy online or from GW stores.-
That's just because you got raped.
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Wait, you mean that optimism isn't fashionable anymore?!
Lord of Smart-ass Youthimizzles.
Soup's up, bitches!
Reading through the post i tend to agree with what you mean.
To be a "good" DM you dont need to read the DMG...you dont even need to read the monster manual to be a "good" DM. What you need is an imagination and more than 10 minutes of planning.
I've never had a problem with power gamers in my games simply because the whole concept of "power gaming" tends to get abit hard to do in my games.
You are in a town.
Why am i in this town?
I have no idea (as DM) it was you who chose to come here.
Alright...what is there to fight?
Nothing...a few peasants...a cow maybe.
What do you mean?! Where is the horde of orks they were talking about?
Why dont you try to find out?
Grrr...Me smash ork skull!
Good for you, shame there aren't any around.
Well in this absurd example, i gave you the reason why powerplayers either dont play in my games or they just dont do it. The only way a player can effectively powerplay in a game is if they are spoon fed the information or if they just tag along with other PC's.
This is also the reason i insist on people having a story abit past the "I come into town..." so that there is atleast a point to them coming in there.
The way you can break up the classic fighter tactic "I just stand there and listen" is to make something happen to him so he has to act, cut him off from his fellow teammates, make him have to respond by himself, run a session with just him as a player...anything to get everyone involved.
Currently i'm trying something different. I'm trying a world with no magic...yepp...no no magic or strangeness at all. It is quite fun since i dont think the PC's totally believe me when i say that
"No...there are no Orks or malevolent Demons...that you've heard about or seen. Ofcourse there are myths, but hey! You can treat them as we treat myths today"
This might be linked with my last campaign which focused alot around plane jumping and Demon avoiding (you don slay demons...if you are smart you avoid them ).
Dont get me wrong though.
I do enjoy throwing random monsters at players as they traverse the inexplicable maze of doom while fighting off teleporting Razts that seem to always know where they are...nothing wrong with that. But sometimes the fantasy gets abit too extreme to handle and then you get proplems.
What i'm trying to see by playing a "real" campaign is to see how important the fantasy element is. Can you play successful D&D without the fireball flinging, levitating devil imp/boar hybrid?
So far the answer is yes.
But i'm wondering why its bad if a DM limits what spells a PC can and cannot take? It makes sense doesn't it?
"I am Gimrok...mage of life and general happiness!"
"So what spells do you have?"
"Phantasmal killer and Animate dead and..."
"Yeah, and i have this really nice Combust spell that makes them into walking barbeques..."
Some happy mage we have here, eh?
So i'll freely and arbitrarily limit my players at every chance i get. Because if you can do anything, choose anything, use anything...well where is the fun in that?
Remember, the rulebooks have misleading names. They are first and foremost guidelines to "assist" in playing. But i have read the core rulebooks, and the supplementaries, and the addons...well anything i can get my hands on i read. But for the love of [Insert name of Deity] dont play by the rules.
Just make sure you let the PC's know what rules you play by.
A better source of good RPG material is (as an example) Dragon magazine [The Official D&D resource]. There you have roleplaying and DM'ing hints and tips instead of "To run an effective session, start by describing the walls..."
Also a comment (concerning the invincible bartender). In my last campaign (with all fantasy element presented) bars were havens for all sorts of scum and creatures. Now if the bartender can be slapped silly by a 1st level fighter...how long do you think he would survive in that business? The best thing to do is not to "make-up" statistics for your re-accurring characters, but to have them pre-made. And if your PC's yell out "We jump the bartender" then ask them to wait 3 minutes while you roll his stats. Its simple. That way you avoid DM cheating and they can have a fair fight.
The main proplem i see in D&D is the "5th player" element. This works out from the concept that a group as about an average of 4 players + 1 DM. That +1 is very important. The DM is not a player, and thus should not behave as one. If the PC, against all common sense, grabs the orb of death. Then, as every single NPC has done, he should die.
Ofcourse we (DM's) try to save the players once in a while, but always doing that makes the game not interesting since the players become in effect Immortal.
Don't be afraid to cut off their hands or legs, to give them permenent injury, lose an eye!
That'll make them think twice before jumping down after the goblin, since they might just break a leg.
Enjoy! (damn...*looking back at post* i just blabbered on and on there didn't i :lol: )
Your fluffraping hurts my eyes. - TehDarkPredator
i have to say that i dm, and my group thinks i do a good job, and i do like 2 of those things, i dont see the problem. the only ones i break are 8 and 13. and the only reason i would have mroe than 8 people is cuz i would be a boyscouts and be forced to, and as for number 8, i would only do that if the campign was ending soon and i knew they would be revived
Quote of the week: "dude, for a whole hour, i would fall asleep!"
eh, but then the intention to kill them isn't really there. If you expect them to be revived then your just throwing an inconvenience in there. Once I let a pc die, because the die rolls were strong enough, and I didn't feal like fudging the numbers in his favor (I usually don't like killing them). "maybe it will pu the fear of death in them" I said, but when he died he got angry at me! He was upset by the experiance loss!! His character took a real ego blow too.
I trhik limitting the players somewhat is ok, as for spells, as long as the PC has the power and level let them cast their spells, but every once in a while throw in some tricks that prevent certain powers and force them into alternative thinking, i find it quite boring when PCs use the same means to overcome specific trials over and over. As for Power Gaming my group and I play under our DM and one member seems to galavant around with his 3rd edition harm spell thinking he's the man. however he is the man, mainly because the DM gave our group too much slack and availability and unbalanced items, however the NG Cleric of Pelor seems to keep casting harm on his party members and is the only one who can ressurect party members, thereby sustaining his status as the most powerful and most important character in the group. I get sick of it and so is the rest of the group, including the DM, and even when the cleric was killed by an ice mephit who rolled 20 consecutive 20's followed by a 19, causing the cleric to lose approximately 15k exp. when raised, he managed to argue and remain alive after we went on a session without him. It just takes away from game play and realism. His arguement was that if you never had enough bonus to hit someone even when you roll a 20 you can't instant kill, personally i thik thats garbage since the odds of rolling 3 consecutive 20's are one in eight thousand, now the fact that the DM supports the cleric's reign of terror takes away fomr the gaming. Even for the slight ammount of roleplaying we do, we never get a chance to get a word in edgewise and the other 3 gamers are pointless other than in combat. I'm in need of a solution as to what a PC can do to clean things up.
Either way you do the math, it all adds up to you goin' down