Not really sure what to do about this situation. I have a group that meets monthly. We do a lot of roleplay, but a few of my players are very into being OP at combat. They want to build their characters the strongest and the best. So I alternatively get requests to both break rules and strictly apply rules so they’ll get advantages. They’ve also said they want deadly combat.

Not really sure how to handle this since their requests swing back and forth between RAW and not RAW. I’m finding myself saying “I want to follow RAW here” one day and then “I don’t want to follow RAW that closely” the other day. They are in many ways kind of ruining combat for themselves as we aren’t a wargaming table. We also have so little playtime I can’t devote an hour or more getting into wargaming combat with them. It wouldn’t be fun for a few of the other players (or for me) to devote our sessions almost entirely to combat and we usually have a few combats to get through.

As DM I feel pressured to be the cool DM and meet their expectations, but I’m also getting frustrated by the constant asks that boil down to wanting to be the most OP. I get the want, but it’s getting to the point where we are having a running issue where the OP players don’t want other players to do things for RP reasons and I haven’t figured how to have this talk to halt the OP train here. The OP players basically want to enter combat, always hit with their attacks, have the max possible attacks and crits, never get hit back, just have the enemy stand there and take damage. Which is obviously a problem as that’s terrible and boring combat.

The players in question are great people. They do roleplay, assist other players and contribute OOC. They do also agree it’s my decision to run the game how I want. I’m just not sure how to express to them they need to slow their roll in trying to be a level 20 god at level 3.

  • Toes♀
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    233 months ago

    Rust monsters, break their stuff.

    Events that force the party into smaller groups.

    Tailor situations to be optimal for the shy players.

    Talk to the players one on one about it

    • @[email protected]
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      53 months ago

      I’m upvoting this comment but IMO the only good advice here is the last point. Don’t try to solve out-of-game problems with in-game solutions

      • mozz
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        3 months ago

        This, this, a thousand times this.

        Doing something in game to “teach your players a lesson,” instead of openly communicating OOC, rarely goes well. The game is a fully consenting activity for all concerned. Players give you control over the game world extending trust to you that you’ll handle it in a way that’s enjoyable for all concerned.

        Taking players who are attached to the idea of unfairly overpowered characters, and putting their characters in a situation where they’re unfairly underpowered to “teach them a lesson,” is a virtually guaranteed gateway to misery and strife.

        Just communicate. (Which it sounds like is what OP has done, so hooray! But the point is worth re emphasizing)

  • @SamuraiBeandog
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    223 months ago

    Literally just tell them what you said in this post.

  • mozz
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    83 months ago

    The game needs to be fun for all concerned, yourself included.

    Honestly, it sounds like some of your players may want to just play video games with cheats on or something – personally I find games to be more fun when there is a challenge, as opposed to my character being so powerful that all challenge is removed, but everyone’s different.

    If it were me, I would probably:

    1. Decide for yourself what kind of game you want to be in that you’ll enjoy.
    2. Talk openly with players (probably one-on-one is better to start with, with the “problem” players first if you want to call it that, and then on some level with everyone together so it’s not a secrets-whispered-in-corners type of thing) about it. Nobody has to want to play a way that’s different than how they want to, but conversely, if they want to play in a fashion that’ll make it difficult for others to have fun, then they may need to find another game, and the players who can have fun together can keep playing in the way that they enjoy.

    If it does wind up that some members of the group are parting ways, then I would try to leave the door open like “hey if in the future you want to try to work it out with us you’re welcome to.” You’re not kicking anyone out, but you are defining the type of game you want to play in, which seems pretty fair to me.

    • @floralbeesOP
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      53 months ago

      Thanks! I talked to one one-on-one and I think we got to the bottom of some of it (was trying to force homebrew their class to fit their idea of it/bring it up to the power level they feel it should be) and made some compromises. I think (hope lol) I put my foot a little down they’ve gotten a version they can live with and we’re not going to keep adding things on. And that we are not a wargaming table.

      Awkward talk, but hopefully we can patch any uncomfortable feelings as we go forward or, if not, at least part amicably like you said.

  • @[email protected]
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    73 months ago

    https://docs.google.com/document/d/15je74qMiYxSEnF43zp2UkEoSk3LqRymMbxruPVGQ-i4/edit

    Okay, first and foremost, it’s about managing expectations. You’re putting yourself in a situation where you CANNOT succeed because you’re allowing them to create expectations that are 100% impossible to fulfil- even if you were a perfect DM, if the players want more than perfection, well…

    What you need to do is sit down and create a hard list of rules that your players approve of. It’s actually fine to ignore RAW in favour of RAI, but consistency is an important part of the game. Decide what houserules you’re using, and write them down. Stick them to your DM screen.

    Now, secondly, if your players want combat, take a look at that google document I’ve linked. It has over 400 magic items that I’ve made, they’re mostly well balanced, and a lot of them are combat oriented. Give your players a selection of items, remind them that they only have three attunement slots, and let the items allow them to create strong but varied builds.

    Thirdly, if your players want to steamroll stuff, then I have another thing for you- your encounter pacing. DnD is designed around having seven encounters per Long Rest, although not every encounter is meant to be combat (I use 3 combat, 2 traps, 2 RP situations). To satisfy your players more broadly, then use early encounters to fulfil their desire to steamroll some mooks and drain their resources, and then for later encounters, chuck a boss at them, and make that boss charismatic and really good at hitting people with area attacks and repositioning (give him an ability to cleave with his sword if he’s not a mage!)- there’s your deadly battle.

    But more than anything, just manage expectations. Tell them that you’ll do your best to give them some battles that let them show off their power, and some more challenging fights that will test their builds and their characters.

    It’s also just important to remember- the challenge of a DnD fight is in puzzle and strategy. The thrill of a fight is in storytelling and description. If they just want thrilling fights, then honestly? Just don’t even track the HP of the boss (do not tell them this under any circumstances or the illusion will be ruined), just keep them standing and throwing out flashy attacks, taking hits and threatening to take the party down, and let them fall when one of the players lands a suitably dramatic attack. Oh and also if the boss is gonna drop any magic items, make sure the boss uses those magic items. Literally no better advertisement for an item than it being used to kick the party’s ass

    • @floralbeesOP
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      33 months ago

      Thanks! For the doc and the encounter building, but also about the expectations. I’ve been getting badgered so much (like, solid month when I said no to something) about “what about if I did it this way” “you have to allow it if I do it this way!” “It would be so great if I could just be this OP!” it has really worn me down and made me feel like the asshole draconian DM for saying no. So that’s a really good point. I did give in and it’s still not enough. So I think that’s definitely where I need to launch this talk from. Measuring their expectations to mine and enjoying a measured game.

      Far as encounter building I’m definitely having difficulty because our sessions aren’t that long so we can fit four combats max. There’s rp challenges in there too, but most of the players are around to roleplay so that’s what we mostly end up doing. One player has said (when it was mentioned the OPs want deadly combat) they would absolutely hate that kind of session which tracks since they’re really into roleplay. I think making the first encounter or two mooks and then having the rest be glass cannon bosses would probably be best. I was just worried because the rest of the party isn’t built to be OP so I’d be focusing most attacks on the OP players and I don’t want the rest to feel left out.

      • @[email protected]
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        33 months ago

        Yeah, it’s a really weird paradoxical thing, but giving in is exactly why it wasn’t enough- it made them feel that there was more they could be getting.

        Oh, and I know EXACTLY the trick you need for that sort of combat thing. Your players are getting too many Long Rests, right? One at the end of every session? At the end of every ingame day? Which makes it impossible to wear your players down, right?

        What you need are Rough Resting rules. Your players can sleep overnight when they’re travelling through somewhere, but as they’re sleeping somewhere dangerous, then they can’t fully relax and recuperate- sleeping overnight outside somewhere like a dedicated inn or their own homes only gives them the benefits of a Short Rest (and prevents the Exhaustion from staying awake for too long). This means you don’t need to cram a ton of fights into one session, because now your players will actually get worn down meaningfully between fights- and you can choose to not give them a full heal until they actually need one- a boss is a LOT more threatening if the party doesn’t have all their resources to nuke them on turn 1.

        • @floralbeesOP
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          13 months ago

          Yeah I think that’s it exactly re: more. As DM I’m like okay it’s one thing enough. I didn’t see the laundry list behind.

          And thanks! That’s a good idea, see where it gets us.

        • @[email protected]
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          13 months ago

          If it’s assumed that days end at the end of a session, I think that assumption itself needs to be examined.

          Each round of combat is, what? 6 seconds? 5? And how long are combat encounters lasting? 5 rounds?

          The average battle lasts 20 - 60 seconds in world, but can take as many minutes at the table. So, if you spent the entire session in combat, you’re looking at 3 - 5 minutes out of the characters’ day.

          Unless there’s an in-game reason for it, days don’t need to end at session end, and should carry over.

          Rough resting is a good system, but it’s nice letting casters get their spells back while you’re roughing it. And if game days stretch across multiple seasons, there isn’t as strong a need to penalize the casters. A compromise here may be Pathfinder 2 style “rests”, where players get their daily abilities refreshed, but they don’t regain more than a handful of hit points.

          Force them to use those lower level spell slots on heals between combats, or eat up potions.

  • @[email protected]
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    53 months ago

    I feel like I’d need more specific examples of the kinds of things they ask for. Do they complain when enemies use tactics or when they miss?

    • @floralbeesOP
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      No, it’s more asking for actions to be free actions or magic items to just be given to them. I said no a lot initially and they tried to wrangle the party and NPCs into doing it for them/letting them get these non-RAW things (trying not to be specific, but at one point they tried to use the NPC they were rescuing as a free whole extra set of action economy). So I’ve felt compelled to just give it to them so they stop derailing the session. My bad really turned out to be giving in as it ramped the asking up a ton and also wanting RAW rules to now apply because they got non-RAW things they want to abuse against the enemies (so even though it was explained to me it was wanted for X and I agreed to X specifically, they’re bringing up RAW also gives them Y and Z).

      Eta: little more specific so NPCs and the party were all being repeatedly badgered to do actions for them instead of being played themselves. Every time I said no it would switch to the next character they interacted with. Same thing for magic items they wanted. It was just constant trying to work every angle to have it show up and be given to them. I’d say no you can’t buy a vorpal sword and it’d become maybe this guy has a vorpal sword in his house for no reason, let’s check till one shows up. That kind of stuff. (They do not have a vorpal sword but as a hypothetical scenario this is what I’m dealing with)

      • @BackpackCat
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        63 months ago

        It seems like from this comment and your post that your players just want to spend the session roleplay their characters doing super op stuff and are not super interested in balanced combat or deep character progression despite what they may say. I thunk would good to talk to them about what you’ve mentioned in the post and how it makes things hard on you as a DM. A couple solutions id maybe propose are agreeing to follow raw for the time and not make any rule changes in session and let you run the kind of campaign you want to see if they enjoy a more traditional DND experience. Alternatively maybe that’s not what they are looking for and if y’all have limited amount of time to play every week maybe a different system besides dnd would be more fun and easier for everyone including you. Ive tried monster of the week and blades in the dark with players similar to yours and found that while they weren’t like the most balanced experiences it was a lot easier to do a quick session where everyone felt like they did cool shit and I didnt have to spend sessions checking rules or trying to tell someone the silly thing they wanted to do wouldnt be possible because of bonus actions or lack of feat. Most important things is everyone has fun including you OP! Hope it all works out!

        • @floralbeesOP
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          33 months ago

          That’s a good point. I know they said they want deadly combat, but one has also said they hate when the enemy is hard to hit and they’re not doing damage/having their damage mitigated. I think it probably is just about doing cool stuff and big damage and they’re not wording it well.

          The group is specifically to run an AL so we won’t be switching systems. But I do think I have to think about how important the balance is to me (I’m not really sure, I’m mostly just here because the constant requests to be more OP are getting to me lol).

          Thanks for the insights.

      • @[email protected]
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        23 months ago

        Buckle down. Let them check 50 empty houses for the vorpal sword. It kind of sounds like they’re taking advantage of your flexibility, and they’re in a place where they think if they can wear you down you’ll agree.

        Honestly this is a very “us vs them” mindset dividing the DM and the players. I’d have a talk about that.

  • @[email protected]
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    43 months ago

    The most OP build in Skyrim is a stealth archer. Every build eventually becomes a stealth archer until the player figures out how boring that is.

    Put them in a place where their power means nothing. Oh combat this session is just a group of goblins that they cut through like butter and you’re back to the RP.

  • @[email protected]
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    43 months ago

    genre shift to immersive sim. Once the player catches on and starts optimizing for physics puzzles and social interactions, either return to playing as normal or keep rolling with it.

  • @[email protected]
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    23 months ago

    Nothing to add here but you’ve had a bunch of great answers; thanks to all the respondents and to OP for being super candid. This thread was a great read!