I’ve got a powergamer in my group that I struggle with.

I’ve got a powergamer in my group that I struggle with.

I’ve got a powergamer in my group that I struggle with. He plays a fighter who’s poured everything into purely mechanical bonuses for hitting and damage. Between that and luck, he rarely rolls under a 10 on Hack and Slash, and routinely rolls well over 10 points of damage. Anyone have suggestions for moves that would help make these combats a little more interesting? I don’t want to just add hit points/armor etc, and turn combat into a grind.

15 thoughts on “I’ve got a powergamer in my group that I struggle with.”

  1. step 1, talk to them (and possibly the other players). Find out what they want, and how they want to be challenged, and what type of stuff they want to see.

    For me, the problem isn’t necessarily that they want to be a powergamer, but that their goals and desires are radically different from everyone else’s desires and goals. Since people are on different pages, on what they want from the game, it makes it hard to have a story and session which meets the needs and expectations of all players.

    For instance, if they want epic battles that are challenging, let them know that NO OTHER character will survive those battles, based on the path they have chosen. If they want to be the one that CRUSHES combat like it’s nothing, let them do it. Don’t build up the combat and make it more difficult, let them just run amok and destroy everything.

    I once had a player who put basically all their build points to make a POWERHOUSE, but when talking to the player, I found out they wanted a character who was challenged in ways that could not be solved by violence, and that regretted the path that had brought them to be essentially a monster. I NEVER would have known this without talking to the player, because on paper it looked like they wanted to be an epic baddass… infact the opposite was true.

  2. Introduce combat elements that don’t involve removing HP. For example, consider environmental hazards (fire, noxious fumes, residual mutagenic magic) and positioning (archers, enemies with long reach, flying enemies, intangible things that require magic or other fictional effects before you can even harm them.)

    Also consider creating hard choices about which enemy to engage. “The archer in front of you is lining up a shot on the Wizard, but the other brute is trying to dart past you to reach the Cleric who just fell to the ground. What do you do?”

  3. i agree with Yoshi, but in terms of an immediate fix, take combat out of the picture. Throw the party into verbal debates, into situations where the non-physical stats are used (INT, WIS, CHA), so that their character is suddenly no longer this badass tank, but instead a clumsy, dumb oaf.

    One of the situations that immediately came to mind is a negotiation with a corrupt nobleman or something, a situation that COULD TURN violent. Then, if the player decides to get violent, make them realize how bad of an idea that is (word getting out that every party member is a criminal, manhunts with the order to kill on sight, etc)

  4. Introduce monsters that attack at range or have other interesting environmental moves.

    How about a Harpy that drops stones from above?

    Try having them encounter a Hill Giant that chucks trees like javelins from over one hundred yards away?

    Also remember that combat in DW isn’t just a series of Hack and Slash rolls. If you introduce a demon that is whipping chain swords about its body, your fighter is going to have to introduce, in fiction, how he is going to get close enough to attack. There’s probably at least a Defy Danger in there to get close. If he fails, perhaps a chain wraps around his weapon and breaks it.

    The environment can also introduce those Defy Danger moments, any one of which give you an opportunity to make things interesting for the Hack and Slash rolls.

  5. Maybe you should be a fan of the character.

    Let him be awesome and save people with his sword. Let him topple empires and kill dragons. Because that sounds awesome. Let them shine.

    AND THEN send in the other guys who want to make a name for themselves. The lone warriors with special moves surrounding them (i.e. When you attack the wearer of the Shadow Crown, roll +WIS. On a 10+, your attack strikes true. On a 7-9, your attack slices through an after image, but you intercept the flanking attack. On a 6-, you don’t see them coming…)

  6. Being a fan of the character isn’t a End all be All solution. I think in some cases, when you get a player who doesn’t understand the spirit of dungeon world and only focuses on the mechanical values as oppose to the fictional aspect, it presents some issues.

    Specially if all the other players want to enjoy combat as well, I can’t make the monster to strong or the other characters who only have 16 hit points and deal 1d6 damage would get destroyed. But when I make the monster appropriate for the majority, but the power gamer comes in and rolls 10+ and deals 14 damage and the monster dies before anyone else really gets to shine, its just not fun.

    I think like a few previous people have mentioned, two routes to take.

    1) Talk to players understand the direction they all want and make sure that direction is clear.

    2) Introduce diverse situations where enemy hit points aren’t all that important, allowing the fiction to deliver.

    Closing: At the end of the day, people are diverse and everyone is different, there is no one way that it HAS to be run or in most cases specially with a system as simple as dungeon world. A way it SHOULD be ran. Its really just a game by game situation.

  7. Anyone have suggestions for moves that would help make these combats a little more interesting?

    “Well, it’s a ghost, right? Attacking it with your sword ain’t gonna do much other than get its attention. You still want to attack?” (Tell the consequences and ask)

    “The hopplite keeps his shield up and his spear leveled unwaveringly at your throat. You want to attack him with your sword, you’re gonna have to get inside his guard somehow. What do you?” (Show the downside of their gear.)

    “Okay, cool, so your attack just bites into it, but it’s like attacking sand! Your blade just sinks in deep and it barely seems to notice. It grins and lashes out at you with a limb that seems suddenly bigger than it should be. What do you do? (Combo: reveal unwelcome truth and put them in a spot.)

    “As you attack the wizard, he cocks an eyebrow and you feel your blade yanking out of your grip, like the wizard is repelling it. It’s so sudden you feel your grip slipping. What do you do?” (Use a monster move)

    “It swings its massive fist down at, like a Mack truck falling from the sky. Ain’t not way your blocking this, what do you do?” (Put them in a spot)

    “You dive clear but the force of the blow buckles the floor, it starts to give way and collapse, the walls and ceiling and starting to crumble, too, what do you do?” (Change the environment.)

  8. As others have said, talk to the players about what they want, and give them problems that can’t be solved by brute force.

    If you specifically want to make fighting more interesting, I’d suggest giving them multiple enemies at once, in multiple locations, so they have to split their forces. No matter how badass this powergamer is, he’s still only one person who can only be in one place at a time. This doesn’t have to mean splitting the party (although contrary to the old saying, that is a valid option), you can just do it on a small scale, like by pitting the party against an ogre trying to smash them while an evil wizard prepares a ritual that they need to stop and goblins are raining arrows on them (and you can pile on more problems as needed, both more enemies and complications like traps that need disarming or friendly NPCs that need saving). While the powergamer engages one enemy, give the other players time to shine by dealing with the other threats.

  9. The problem with some of the advice people are giving here (and it is very good otherwise) is that it won’t be a long term solution for your problem.

    Your problem is one of different creative agendas among the players. If one wanted to go NGS theory on this, your power-player is playing for gamism while everyone else is going narrativism. No need to go into the murky depths of theory: all you need to realise is that people’s expectations from the game are different.

    Solution? Only two things can happen: You talk with them all and your player “gets it” and hopefully will have fun in the future even if he has to compromise. OR, it’s simply not the game and/or gameplay group for him. There’s no medication that cures these problems.

  10. Create a monster with high armor, and have it be a magical property of the monster, then create a custom move that after it is a target of a successful hack and slash move, the attacker rolls +str. On a 10+, the attacker takes damage in the amount of damage that was absorbed by the creature’s armor and takes +1 forward to hack and slash rolls against it. On a 7-9 the attacker takes damage in the amount of damage that was absorbed by the creature’s armor. On a 6- the attacker is not effected by this move.

  11. Also, look at the range of his weapon. A huge sword is not going to help against bugs that get into his armor and bite him. Also, implement some combat wherein he can’t reach the archers without taking some hits from their arrows while he has to climb up to the balcony,etc.

    If he is the kind of gamer that wants to kick butt, have a bigger champion/orc/giant call him out for a death match while the other party members work on the others.

  12. To add a counter argument – The Fighter is the game’s breaking point.

    At higher levels they gain so much armour and can do so much damage they basically become a joke that is played on the player and GM. It’s not a lot of fun.

    Some will recommend roleplaying around the issue, but that punishes the player for choosing options that their playbook offered them. Basically saying, “ha ha, you chose lots of armour and damage and now I’ve changed everything so all those things you chose don’t matter anymore”.

    Some will recommend just going along with it. But then it becomes super boring – why isn’t anyone a challenge anymore?

    I’d second talking to the player. The min/max options offered by the playbook do not make for a fun game. Try to figure out some Compendium Class moves they can take instead of flat bonuses that make the game boring.

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