View Full Version : GM Dillema #75

07-12-2008, 09:10 PM
GM’ing/DM’ing/Storytelling is not an easy job. In fact in terms of workload in a tabletop roleplaying the GM has probably the hardest job of all. Running a game, telling a story and trying to keep all the players happy. I was thinking of making a series of threads presenting various hypotheticals. And see how you all reply and answer them in your own unique way.

I am going to try and keep these hypotheticals as game neutral as possible, to allow all players and GMs to react and apply to their own game system as much as possible.

There are no right or wrong answers in this, just how you would all respond.

And here we go.


You are running a campaign that has gone on a fair while. One of your players has recently leveled up and just picked up a new ability. The ability on its own is a good ability, and helps make the character that bit more powerful. It seems like a nice reward for the character for his hard work.

However, this ability has made a rather nasty cocktail with the characters other abilities. In your recent adventures he has managed to take down one of your big bad monsters/bad guys in a single attack. In comparison with the other members of the party this character is of virtually godlike ability.

The player themselves is not a munchkin or much of a power gamer, but they do tend to get attached to their characters. The ability is one that is in the original core book of your game and completely official. Yet you know if you just let this go on it will ruin the enjoyment of everyone.

What do you do?

07-12-2008, 11:31 PM
You are the GM, if the attack is going to kill in one hit, you add more hit points to the boss to offset that. Or you let him "kill" that boss, but the boss pops up again later. In that game, you are god, and nothing says you have to be honest with your players about your NPC's stats.

07-12-2008, 11:39 PM
The only thing that I can think of is to take this out of character and have a group discussion with the player. Maybe the player in question can be convinced to, with no penalty, change his new-picked ability into something that's less god-like, on the grounds that he's robbing the rest of the group of fun to be had. If not, well, start making his character less valuable by changing the way the campaign turns out or by forcibly changing his character.

07-13-2008, 12:31 AM
Do what Op said, and ask him to retrain. If that doesn't work, start throwing things at the party that the ability is useless on. (For example, many abilities are useless on undead and constructs in D&D 3.5).

Princess Minako
07-14-2008, 06:50 AM
I disagree with taking it OOC, last time I saw something like that it turned into a 2 hour discussion on "feelings". I saw more drama than a group of middle school girls.

I say edit your campaign, take it into a new directions, there are always on the go adjustments.

07-14-2008, 08:01 AM
There are a number of things that should be done:

1) Talk to the player and find out what direction they want the path of the character to go. Now more then ever with D&D, there are paths you have to take, and you have to plan for. You can't just roll a class that you might have enjoyed in the past, now they are "prestige" classes and require different things.
2) Without sharing information, or personal opinions, make sure the company or party of people are all heading for the same area. This is something that you should be doing anytime you game with a certain group of people. Too many times I see a campaign go exactly where the DM wants, and the players have a horrible time because the DM either enjoys the power of his position too much, or because he refuses to let the characters actually roleplay, and favors only throwing dice in combat. Roleplay is MORE then combat, and too many people who get into D&D these days are confused on that point.

3) Changing the campaign is something that can always be done, the creatures encountered, or anything else, just making sure that it sticks with whatever campaign you have going, so the whole affair doesn't get derailed because of one player.

4) Maintain a watch.: Making sure that no one becomes a power gamer, or someone that shuts down roleplay in favor of killing things for example. =) Such people tend to "kill the buzz", as it was. When one player reveals something like that to everyone else concerned, what a character can do, you have to handle it delicately to make sure that someone else doesn't feel threatened, and challenge themselves to counter what character one did, it can go back and forth for a long time. Better to cut it off sooner then later.

5) I am in favor of adding something that the particular ability doesn't effect, or perhaps take the campaign where the least powerful character becomes the most useful. That type of tactic. ^_^

6) Everyone should have a certain level of attachment to a character, there is a lot of work, and time that goes into a good one. Having someone break down and cry because they lost a character is something that has to be addressed. While I don't kill my characters because I enjoy it, I do stand by the decisions of the table, and by the dice above all. I do not allow my players to question the final judgement anymore.

Feelings have no play when you throw dice. Feelings have a place AFTER the dice have been thrown. You are roleplaying to have fun with the PEOPLE you are with, and to continue the adventure of a particular character, nothing else.

07-23-2008, 08:16 PM
I buff the enemies they fight, and start throwing immunities at that character on certain(not all) enemies. Bigger monsters or a better-equipped army is reasonable and minimally invasive.

Digital Dragon
07-24-2008, 08:50 PM
You can always tell the player that his selection of that ability is proving unbalancing and ask him to take something else. It is your game, thus your rules. Not all core rulebooks have balanced characters resulting from the way they are generated, in which case you, the GM, have to step up and make modifications to the rules as to what you will allow combined with something else. Your game, your rules.

08-19-2008, 12:54 PM
Above all else remember that YOU are the GM and YOU are responsible for the story's advancement. The important thing to remember about GM'ing anything is that the story you are telling should take priority over any mechanic in the books. With out a good story, you've got no reason to even have mechanics.

With that being said there are a number of approaches one could take to this situation, both internal and external.

1) You could assess the situation and players advancements. Maybe the other players are just that many xp points away from a level and a certain set of abilities that will elevate them to the same status. Perhaps you could just award the players with the needed xp at the end of the next set of encounters. Yes you are sandbagging the level, but it could balance the group out and help the others feel more significant.

2) You could always up the ante against the players by throwing harder monsters and levels at them. One of three things will happen. 1) The group save your uber skill user will all die out and thus the game ends... 2) The group levels up faster and thus gets everyone to a higher skill status (kind of like suggestion #1) or 3) The group says "screw this" and ditches the uber gamer and or his character.

4) You could just kill the character.... somehow.

5) Change the setting. If the players are all in a medieval fantasy setting, maybe dropping them into a steam punk adventure will add sufficient challenge that makes the players new found skill useless and or less important.

1) You could talk with the offending player. Explain that you didn't see the problem with the skill at the offset but given his other abilities and powers you really think it's becoming unbalancing for the rest of the party and the story. Ask him/ her if they don't mind either trading the skill for something else, or possibly bring in that "other" character they've been wanting to play.

2) You could ask the party for their opinion. If they don't see any problems with the player or the skill, maybe they wouldn't object to you bringing the challenges up a notch or three.

3) You could just flat up ask the player to change characters. Don't really cite a reason. Just call it a "plot twist."

Bottom line... you've got a story to tell. Players come and go, as do their characters. No game mechanic or ruling should EVER rule the DM/GM. You are the boss, and it is your story you are telling. It's your responsibility to bring the players to the gates of hell and back again. If a rule book gets in the way, toss it aside. If the player gets too offended... they'll either change characters or quit. Really the loss of a -single- player isn't the end of the world. It's when you've got the rest of the group threating to leave because of one guy is when you've got issues. No players, No story, No game.

It's that simple.

Yugure's Goddess
09-21-2008, 06:51 PM
I, personally, would suggest putting them into situations where having a big awesome attack is virtually useless. I'm a huge fan of puzzles and non-combat challenges, and this creates a really nice situation where they can contribute a whole lot for the enjoyment of all, with, not only problem solving, but also situations in which other skills (like lock picking or some special spell which that particular character doesn't have) might be necessary.

Now, I know that with a good adventure, there still has to be some combat, so throwing up non-combat obstacles isn't going to solve the problem completely, so perhaps throwing in monsters that the ability won't work against would be fun. Other solutions could include creating an opponent that also has a similar ability that can be thrown back at the big-hitter, or having a monster that can disarm him of this ability in that particular battle. It can be useful to cleave them of it temporarily, this way other characters can step in for that part, and he doesn't have to loose his cool new move.

If things get too intense or they get too powerful and/or cocky, I can get a lot of enjoyment out of just zapping their character in a major way. I don't wanna be mean to a friend but if they're depriving others of their fun, too, then they deserve to take an extra hit or two. Heck, I wouldn't be entirely against just killing them in one fell swoop. Tell them they can keep it fair or take a walk. Well, warn them of that possibility before-hand, too. My friends will usually listen and keep it fair if I give them that option. After all, I am the DM, and am virtually the only one that can set them up with a D&D game so... yeah. It's mean, but I'm not the type of DM that tolerates such a severe gap in power, without laying down some strict boundaries for it.

Eh, that's just me.