# To powergame or not to powergame....

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vejlin,

I am no expert but I think the Conan RPG from Mongoose uses a system of advancement some what like that.

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I play now and then with a guy who basically just narrates the experience. So you get some XP as he sees fit, or you get a level, or you get a skill go up, or some combination of all the above. It's pretty good. You get some discretionary skill points, and some according to what your character actually DID either lots of, or spectacularly well.

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Problem with that system being that you need a good DM/GM to pull it off.

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Being A GM or going on 15 years, I have noticed that powergaming is the norm with the younger crowd. This board seems to be littered with us "old school" gamers who just plumb got sick of players killing an army of Cloud Giants for breakfast and needing only a cure light wounds to recover. Experiance is more than the point value attached to the characters advancement, but also what the individual Player has in the game itself. Seasoned gamers tend to shy away from powergaming because they are in it for the role, and not the stats but It seems that for the first couple years, most people want a "stat-playing game" and could care less about the way it happens.

I find that I need to cater to the individual level of exp. of the particular player in order to keep a balence between old and new players. Older players that want the epic story can get it with the help of the younger gamer who is kept busy developing his skills thruogh a role-play to a Reward System. I use a fixed chart to dole out XP for use of skills in situations that adds to everyones expwerience. I also give XP for "power-playing" meaning that the powergamer will get the most XP if he/she emulates the veterans and keeps their power lust behind the development of character and story.

This is by no means easy, and nothing works for everyone all the time, but patience is the only cure for grumpy gamers. A good GM is far harder to come across than a good group. 9 times out of 10, if there is a problem in the group, I need to fix my perception/problem as the GM rather take it out on the players. The GM may be in control, but often the dumbest guy in the room as well.

Dr. J

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I think when you're new to it, the game system is the simple hook to hang your hat on. It helps define goals and rate performance, and lets you know what your character is "good at", which can also be his basic role in the story.

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I agree that the DM needs to listen to the players. The DM is the moderator of everything going on. The core of any campaign depends on what the DM does to keep it moving and interesting. If the players aren't having fun with the core of the campaign, it is the DM's fault. That stipulation is for the group as a whole, however, and should not be taken to mean the DM has to please everyone. They don't. Frequently, they can't.

The DM is not responsible for working in all the player peccadilloes. Players can play obnoxious characters, and if the group enjoys it, rock on. That's something the DM should be able to roll with. If the group doesn't enjoy it, either they or the DM has to take that player to task, and get it sorted out.

It doesn't matter if a player wants to portray a coward if the other player's characters would not be willing to put up with such a problem. Unless there was no other way for a group to survive without such a character, they'd leave them in some town, if not staked out for wolves. It doesn't matter if the player can do a wonderful job portraying the character. A roleplaying group has to have characters that would be willing to put up with each other, or the campaign will lose appeal and grind down to tedium. There can be intense rivalry between characters, and it can add a lot to the story, but if the character concepts do not work together, something has to change.

Does anybody enjoy working with someone they can't trust to pull their weight? Now think of that in a life or death situation. That's where fragging came from; remove the problem before it costs everyone their lives. I've seen it used in numerous gaming campaigns through the years.

There is no rule that says everyone must put up with what one player wants. That is bullying, and not roleplaying.

Powergamers can work fine with character gamers, so long as they can provide functional characters that will work together. The DM controls how characters will advance, and can control powergaming by setting tasks that require more diversity for the group to overcome. A player may still work to create a monster, but since there are people in the world who overspecialize, why not a character? So long as the powergamer isn't causing the group any problems, and people are having fun, things are fine. If the player is causing problems, they need to fix it or find another group.

I've had a powergamer playing with us consistently for over fifteen years, and he's gotten to the point he can build a very good character that just happens to be a combat monster. He works well with the jokes that roll his way when he flubs up something simple, but non-combat oriented. He adds humor and fun to the group, and people frequently forget how limited his characters can sometimes be. He wants an action hero, and he plays a very good action hero. He knows he can't do some of the things other characters can do, and is happy to let the other characters shine.

Some systems cater to powergamers more than others, but most systems have some rules that can be taken advantage of. A good DM can learn to mitigate those advantages, because the DM controls the game.

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I agree with Gimp. Powergaming, at least as I define it, is merely one way to enjoy the game. While it is true that it tends to be more common in the younger crowd, I know powergamers who are in their late 30's and early 40's who have been playing for 25+ years.

Powergaming to me is simply a player who is motivated by advancing within the game system: a bigger weapon, cooler powers/spells, more XP, whatever. The new shiny is what he wants and craves. Now, not all powergamers will whine at the GM or try to ignore RP or other players' interests. Some do and try to have it all their way. That's not powergaming, though. That's being a jerk.

I've seen an "immersive" roleplayer be a jerk because someone asked whether he got a bonus in a given situation because of a class ability ("Shut up! You're destroying the MOOD!"). Now, the "powergamer" in question's PC was in a life or death situation and that +2 was important to him. He wasn't whining, he just wanted the GM's call. The roleplayer was being a pompous @ and eating up table time with his griping (he launched into a 5 minute argument with EVERYONE about how his enjoyment for the evening was affected by this "gaffe" by the powergamer. Oy).

A good GM can offer a little something for everyone: RP opps, hacking, cool magic items, XP to garner, etc. Good players try not to step on each others' toes and give the GM's calls the beniefit of the doubt.

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Sounds like compatible playing styles of the players is actually more important than what the actual playing style is. Not surprising but just an observation.

\begin{rant}

My biggest problem so far (I admit my roleplaying experiences are somewhat limited) was with a fellow gamer who roleplayed the character as if the character was a retard constantly makeing obviously stupid decisions. The reasoning being a low intelligence score. Infact the score was 12 I think (D&D 3.5) which is above average intelligence. See that really annoyed me. First of all because the character did not have a low intelligence score and secondly because being unintelligent doesn't mean doing the exact opposite of what's a smart move in every possible situation.

\end{rant}

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Playing stupid...

My brother is 6.5 years younger than me. When I was hitting regional cons, I started taking him along. He had been playing D&D since he was 7. We always had him play the semi-mindless fighter.

Anywho, I was about 19 or 20 and he was 13 or 14 and we were playing in a group of peoiple we did not know and it was ok for what it was. The problem was this guy who looked like Comic Book Guy from the Simpsons, in every way, playing a gnome illusionist who was pretending to be really stupid. He used a stupid voice and made really stupid comments. He was sitting next to my brother and kept tapping his arm while making stupid comments. I had only been studying Kung Fu for 2 or 3 years at that point, but I taught my brother as I went. He warned the oversized, 35 year old virgin to stop touching him and the idiot kept on going.

Before we knew what had happened, there was a 300 lb geek pinned to the table and my 13 year old, 120 pound little brother holding him in a writslock and forcing his head and chest down on the table saying "I TOLD you to F&^\$%*@ stop touching me!!!!" THe guy grunted "OK-OK" and he was let up. The dice that had been stuck to his face fell away and left imprints and the other six of us either looked shocked or laughed our arses off!

Comic Book Gnome Guy never touched my brother again.

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Sounds like compatible playing styles of the players is actually more important than what the actual playing style is. Not surprising but just an observation.

That's the true core of it. The game system doesn't have to be great. The players don't have to be clones.

The best groups come from people that are willing to play together and work to have fun.

Gamers frequently put up with garbage they wouldn't in other situations just to have a full group. I play to have fun, and work hard to run games people enjoy. I don't put up with idiots that spoil that experience. Caricature playing is not good roleplaying. We coined the term NPC (non-player clone) for players like that back when I was in service.

I can be a harsh DM. If players are working together, I try not to kill players off, because they put a lot of work into their characters. A DM can always kill the player's characters. There is no game that can balance the power of the DM against the players. Those games that try come across as humorous or naive. An older game had the line, 'The GM's mission is not to kill those pesky player characters, only to make them think they're about to die.' If players are being idiots, however, I don't pull punches. You don't need to try to kill idiots, just let them pay appropriate consequences for their actions. If they're lucky, they'll survive and learn. If you're lucky, they'll learn or leave.

Players need to think about their characters, too. How would they react to an assosciate that was ruining their reputation in towns, and causing near death experiences on adventures? Ranz's brother reacted like a real person to a complete buffoon, why wouldn't a character? If Bilbo the Bimbo wants to play a moronic fool, let the other players leave him behind on the adventure, and tell him why. If he causes a character death, let the characters make him pay. If he runs into a death trap, let him die, or at least don't waste lives trying to rescue him. Play your character as they would behave, not to facilitate somebody else's stupid fantasy.

Good roleplaying is actually a good defense against idiot roleplayers.

People need to defend themselves.

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That throws up another facet to this whole thread,whereby players do tend to "migrate" towards playing themselves,or there own fantasy conception of themselves,no matter how subtle or sub-conscious it may be.

How many players do you know who play the same race/class of pc in each new game?You know that player x will want to be an elf wizard for example 9 times out of 10,admittedly that is where the DM can intervene and assign characters to players from the outset.

As for xp's generally I do think they add to the game and are indeed necessary,though some systems approach are better than others,IMHO warhammer fantasy roleplay has one of the best,and I recently ran a campaign for some hardcore,devout d&d players which they thoroughly enjoyed.

To fill in some blanks from the original post,the player in question had been playing a kender,dragonlance setting,and a large part of the session had been a sizeable combat,which the kender didnt feature too heavily in,there had been a slight altercation between him and the DM,all of which may have led to him being "penalised".I know that doesnt justify the actions of the DM but they were obviously influencing factors.And the little #@?* pinched 5gp from my character during the session,so obviously it serves him right......doesnt it?

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I tend to play similar characters, often because sessions are months apart and we end up in a new campaign, so I take the bits I liked from the old character anbd carry them through.

As for playing myself, well, even if I play an evil bastard, I'll be doing what I THINK is evil. Most of my characters are me, which is what makes it ironic when people think, for example, that my female character is a sexist caricature.... when she's me. of course, my characters are all a different TAKE on me. I mean, a me with a freakin' claymore in a savage world where the only things you can trust are your your good right arm and the steel of your blade isn't really even REMOTELY me, really.

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Ranza

that is awesome, pure awesome

gotta love those type of gamers, ughhh

RM

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To fill in some blanks from the original post,the player in question had been playing a kender,dragonlance setting,and a large part of the session had been a sizeable combat,which the kender didnt feature too heavily in,there had been a slight altercation between him and the DM,all of which may have led to him being "penalised".I know that doesnt justify the actions of the DM but they were obviously influencing factors.And the little #@?* pinched 5gp from my character during the session,so obviously it serves him right......doesnt it?

Wow, just wow. There are SO many things wrong with that...

I vote for fun.

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