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To powergame or not to powergame....


paleskin
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Wow, I've had to deal with the issue of powergaming a LOT recently.

I've been running a D&D Epic-Level game, and I KNEW when I started it that the players involved should probably have been replaced with better roleplayers. I didn't listen to reason, though.

I've just recently ended up cancelling that game due to an excess of metagaming (using OOC knowledge in-character), a complete disregard for roleplaying in lieu of character advancement, and due to the ungrateful attitude of the players. Don't get me wrong... these guys are my friends, but they can't roleplay worth a nickel.

In my experience, it all comes down to how mentally/emotionally mature your players are (this of course also applies to your GM). Some of my players were in their mid-twenties and still possessed the mentality of your typical fourteen-year-old. Then again, I've known a fourteen-year-old who acts closer to twenty due to the maturity his life requires of him.

 

In the end, powergaming should NOT be the focus of a person's roleplaying experience. Sure, it's nice to have a powerful character. But roleplaying games are called such because the point of playing them is to be able to enjoy a fantasy where you are someone else. That being said, there is a place for powergamers... it's called Hackmaster by Steve Jackson games. ::P:

If your fantasy is compensating for something that you can't deal with in real life, then pick an appropriate roleplaying system and make sure your fellow players and the GM are intending on a powergame. There are also a gaggle of online/pc/console games that you can use to feel better about yourself as well.

 

Just remember, those who enjoy playing RPG's for their roleplaying opportunities and those who just want to powergame don't usually make a happy group when combined. Try to stick to your own and you should have fun either way!

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Just remember, those who enjoy playing RPG's for their roleplaying opportunities and those who just want to powergame don't usually make a happy group when combined. Try to stick to your own and you should have fun either way!

I'll have to disagree with this one. We've had a fairly steady mix of powergamers and roleplayers going for over fifteen years and still having fun.

 

Like most forms of gaming, it comes down to the players, and whether they can work together to have fun, or just be selfish twits out for themselves. Most people worth gaming with can share.

 

Not all powergamers are immature idiots. Not all staunch roleplayers are angst ridden wannabe actors.

 

The number of gamers compensating for real life issues in their gaming is a far smaller minority than many appear to believe, whether through powergaming or over the top roleplaying. Most gamers are simply people who have different ideas on what they consider fun, and neither end of the spectrum has a moral high ground to look down from.

 

Extremists will always have a hard time compromising to let everyone have fun, but I've even seen extremists from both ends wind up having fun with a group. If people take the time to communicate rather than prevaricate, piss, and moan, it can make a huge difference in a group's success.

 

It isn't so much about play style as a willingness to play nice.

 

@Akashayana, On a side note, epic level D&D is far more the territory of a powergaming group than a staunch roleplaying group. The power level of characters is so far above the norm of the entire world that many roleplaying oportunities are wasted. Roleplaying a demigod level of power is a much smaller roleplaying niche than it is a powergamer niche.

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I like to play powerful, competent characters, but I also like to Roleplay. I don't take either to the extreme (no stats analysis, and no accents/never breaking OOC etc). If people aren't prepared to do anything other than basically play Monopoly only with XP as money and monsters as hotels then it's not a powergamer vs roleplayer problem, it's a roleplayer of any stripe vs a total non-roleplayer.

 

Epic level raises the question of how to force players to RP. I mean, in L5R you're always under threat of being beheaded by an uberdaimyo or something if you don't make some attempt to keep track of the ettiquette, rank, and so on in the game world. Even worse is that the GM can make your character suicide without it looking like the GM's being extreme. that tends to force you to think it terms of the game world.

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....which is one reason i like L5R...their society has it's own very lethal counterbalances, that keep you at least on the worry about your roleplay involvement.

 

that, and if you are playing a sociopath reprobate and are "lucky" enough to be made ronin by your lord (who wishes to disgrace you like a pig), you have really landed in the cowpile. no one likes ronin...in many ways, they are worse than oni.

 

Gimp, you deserve a title just for that post. you are defuinelty NOT mostly harmless. i request a promotion for our Gimp...

 

(odd statement, eh?)

 

on topic,

what makes RPG better than, say , local theatre acting, is the random gamble, the quests for power, the chance to ad lib the script....

i say, if they powergame, but are still roleplaying, let them come.

afterall, power-hungry people exist.

 

if they OOC and never truly roleplay the character, then, well, boot 'em.

 

:ph34r:

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Yeah, I actually play ronin in L5R quite a lot, since the GM likes the down-and-out, desperate, or covert style of gameplay, depending. The thing is that as ronin, all it takes is for a samurai to say so, and you're required to commit suicide. You have to watch your step all the time, because as my GM said: "the toes you step on now may be attached to the @$$ you have to kiss later", there's all these layers of intrigue and connection.

 

That might be one way to bring these guys into line. Epic level play demands epic conspiracies, cliques and connections involving entire pantheons. Muddy the water. What if the difference between the gods and the devils/demons was really just their outlook on each other's playing-with-mortals styles? All of a sudden all the supernatural beings, whatever contempt they hold each other in, are members of one big, dirty club, one that's existed for as long as time, and which DOESN'T smile on New Members or Riff Raff.

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I suppose there's good and bad in both powergamers AND roleplay-purists. I personally prefer the theatre of a good roleplay with intriguing characters (players with vivid imaginations) over epic quests with high-level multiclass prestige class characters (players with loads of suppliment books and vast knowledge of how to use rules-cynergy to their advantage).

 

On the one hand, you got your "chicken-levellers" and the ubiquetous heros who can tell you for hours on end about their equipment and armour but cannot tell you the name of the last NPC they met: and on the other hand you got your drama-divas who have not even bothered to look at the Players Gude or learned how to interpret their character sheets

 

One GMing style I think I am learning to like is Lstormhammer's up-front request for potential characters to submit to him (in private), a small bio of their character as well as a few character-developmental goals in order to help him provide opportunities for advancement as well as roleplaying gratification for all player characters involved.

 

As for earlier comments about how Xp are doled out, I personally like DMs that pass out bonus Xp to players that do extraordinary things in-game, though I am particularly partial to Call of Cthulhu's "curve" system of skills-advancement and Twilight 2000's system that would only allow a character to gain prowess in a particular skill by actually successfully performing said skill OR setting aside time to study/practice at said skill.

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I would like to add...

Powergaming and role-playing are NOT mutually exclusive, regardless of system.

 

I've played dragon PCs in a couple of games. One was in a seriously house-ruled 2nd ed AD&D game, one was in a 3.25 epic D&D game (with 30th level characters). Both cases, powergaming city -- the same sort of guilty pleasure as "death by chocolate" cake. Both times, tons of roleplaying. In both games, the roleplaying was easier partly because the characters had the toys to do the things they wanted to do, and stand up to the Big Bad Evil Demon Things. Both games were a blast.

 

I tend to come up with a character concept that just can't be replicated adequately at whatever power level the game is running at. So, aside from each character tending to have one goal built-in from the start, I tend to powergame to try to get the character to fit the concept. But there's no reason that has to get in the way of role-playing.

 

Neat tools and cool toys for the character are like props. You can role-play without them, but it can be a lot easier when you have a decent variety to pick from.

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Spike's point about NCP names is a relevant one,it is too easy in roleplaying to refer to PC's by their players name or their race/class,rather than their character name e.g."what is the elf/druid doing" rather than "what is twinkle toe the hippy doing". ::D:

 

Not using character names is a basic error in roleplaying but one which I find occurs frequently......doesnt it? :rock:

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Spike's point about NCP names is a relevant one,it is too easy in roleplaying to refer to PC's by their players name or their race/class,rather than their character name e.g."what is the elf/druid doing" rather than "what is twinkle toe the hippy doing". ::D:

 

Not using character names is a basic error in roleplaying but one which I find occurs frequently......doesnt it? :rock:

It's only an error to those who feel that way.

 

I haven't encountered too many groups that went by race/class, but I've dealt with a lot of groups that could work quite well with a combination of character and player names:

'Drew, what are you doing?' for a player with a Dwarf named Topper.

'David, what is Ryu doing?' for a player with a character named (gasp) Ryu.

 

Those are options I've seen more often. They may offend players that really get into the roleplaying aspect, but not more casual roleplayers. I've met far fewer players that insist on staying constantly in character than I have players that enjoy simply playing with their characters. Slipping in and out of character is the most common type of player.

 

Topper might always speak with a Canadian accent (having been a logger from Canada), but that particular player, even with a theatre degree, is also happy to join in non-character discourse with his normal voice.

 

So long as the group is happy, whatever system being used is working. If you are finding 'errors' in how your group plays, you need to discuss it, and work things out. If you can't find a compromise that you can be happy with, you probably need to find a new group.

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Gimp,change your name to contrary please ::D:

Disagree with your somewhat flippant disregard for the importance of calling/using pc names rather than the players name,it is important,and it doesnt mean you have to play your pc with oscar winning monologues just because you refer to them by their given "name",its a fundamental basic which regularly gets overlooked.....fact :poke:

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