A player is too powerful in D&D. What do I do?

A player is too powerful in D&D

A player is too powerful in D&D. This is something that sneaks up on most dungeon masters and can ruin a game very quickly.

When a player is too powerful in D&D you can make the others powerful, talk to that player, or use enemies that challenge the powerful player more.

We have all had this happen (or dread it) when a player gets one powerful item and becomes a god compared to the rest of the party.

Perhaps the entire party is getting too much gold or magical items and you realize that you have nothing more to give.

Maybe you started and everyone was making a great character, having some fun, and one person asked to play a class you have never heard of. You say yes because you don’t want to dismay your players and this class is straight-up broken.

Still not sure exactly what I mean? Let me give you a fun little example.

I ran an RPG club in high school and was the dungeon master because no one really knew how to Dm. If they did, they were compared to me and when you compare a new person to someone who has been doing that same thing for years the newbie feels like they aren’t good enough.

That is an issue for another time, but people often feel this way and it caused me to be the only real dungeon master. This made me a bit jaded and I had to lump new wide-eyed players in with the grizzled veterans.

Nothing could go wrong….right? RIGHT???

In this instance, the new players were just simple classes and they didn’t try to maximize everything. The veterans, however, found the most broken class possible and min-maxed the ever-loving crap out of it!

The sad thing is, the new players were desiring to roleplay and actually experience all that Dungeons and Dragons has to offer.

The veterans squashed that quickly since they were high school boys who only had murder on their minds. If you can’t kill 30 goblins in one swing as a level one, you didn’t build correctly.

This was the mentality they had and I catered to this diablo style gaming since that is all I usually had.  I hoped that the veterans would transition to something more, like caring about the story, people, the world, etc.

This was a foolish dream since these players wanted to play a Diablo-style game. Hack, slash, kill, loot. Repeat.

What happens when a player is too powerful in D&D?

Do you remember that nice little group of new players who wanted to play the game by roleplaying and enjoying life? That wasn’t going to happen.

The veterans downed everything that had a modicum of difficulty. Oh, you are level two and encounter a troll! Whatever will you do? Three, rounds, later. The troll has been slashed to pieces and the players got hit perhaps once.

You may wonder how a troll can only hit a level two once, and I have a superpower. If you would like to hear about my superpower, watch this to hear about it.

I had to step up my game.

If my monsters can’t hit and die quickly, why not make a monster of a monster that has extra attacks and more health!

So I made a boss monster that would be extremely difficult for a party of four level seven characters! The party was level three by now, and upon realizing that not one, but two players were too powerful,  I decided to throw in this monster.

What was the monster you ask?

Why it was a simple orc! That had access to feats, a magic weapon, and a few potions. The three potions I gave the orc were a potion of bull strength, healing (around 40 hp) and a potion of haste. This simple orc was around a level six barbarian, and had some fun little surprises for the party!

Now, this was in third edition so your strength could go beyond 20 and oooohhhhh boy was it beefed up! My genius plan was to have these two overpowered players fight this monster while the rest of the party fought the trash.

The plan didn’t happen.

Instead, a new player went to ‘hold off’ the boss orc while the others cleared out the goblins and smaller orcs. This player was a tank with high armor class and was meant to do this! He was built to hold off a boss monster for his team, but he was a level three vs a monster that would give a level seven-party a hard time.

He got squished.

I had not anticipated my brave wide-eyed newbies to go after the obvious monster meant to challenge the parties, two demigods. So with a quick brush, the character was knocked from half hp to unconscious,

Now I did happen to roll very well, but I normally don’t. So when I was asking “does a 25 hit?” The party naturally assumed I had rolled a nine (pretty high roll on a d20) and added 16 to hit. This caused the veterans to almost fall out of their chair in shock. Their mouths did hang open and instantly contemplated running away.

A player is too powerful in D&D. (Two actually..)

The rest of the party instantly looked at these two veterans. Even if they were not well versed in Dungeons and Dragons, they understood what was happening. This monster was because of them. Because A player is too powerful in D&D (or two in this case) and they guilted these two to fight the monster.

These two players looked afraid for the first time that day and thought about how to fight this beast.

At first, they went at it head-on, trying to use their cheap and overpowered tricks to out damage and parry the monster. They made assured attacks miss from the monster and after hitting they automatically made normal attack crits about four times. The monster hit an overpowered player. That player was almost unconscious from full health.

Full panic mode set in as the party tried to kill the monster.

This orc boss had +6 to hit, three swings a turn, over 100 hp, and did 1d12+7 damage against two level threes. The level threes won.

At this point, I was a bit angry and so was the rest of the party. The new players couldn’t fully blame me for making this monster since the veterans killed it, but we all had a long talk with the veterans to never play anything that ridiculously broken again.

Should you do what I did?

No. I do not recommend ever making a monster so that the rest of the party can fight trash while the overpowered characters are the true heroes fighting the boss. This makes everyone else feel like a sidekick.

No one wants to be a sidekick.

This is why I do not recommend that you make a fight where half of your players feel like heroes and the rest clear trash. If you have ever played an MMORPG you understand that clearing trash is the most tedious and annoying chore in order to reach the boss. You do not want to play a game where you clear trash and the others get interesting and good fights.

Do not ever cater to a small group minority.

If you are in a position like I was, you need to have a serious talk with your players. Figure out if everyone wants to play the same type of game. If some players want to play a typical Dungeons and Dragons game while others want to play a min-maxed Diablo-style game where you kill and get loot, then have two separate groups.

Even if one group has two people while another has four, it will work out much better. Find a new person to be a dungeon master with the new players. This way everyone is new and there will not be a problem with players being too powerful compared to the rest of the group.

Everyone needs to have some time where they learn, and this can be a great option to help facilitate a new dungeon master so that they can properly learn and not get squashed into the ground by experienced players.

If you are a new dungeon master and are unsure of your capabilities, read this. It will make you feel a lot better and help prepare you.

How to prevent a player from being too powerful.

You should have a session 0 before you start. This is simply where you lay out what you expect, and what the players can expect of the game. In addition, you check character sheets and backgrounds. This is the time where you can say no, but this is something that should be covered more at a later time since it can be a big topic.

Talk to your players.

Figure out what each person wants out of the game. If people want different things, you can cater to each person’s preferences at different times in the game.

Lastly, encourage other aspects of the game besides combat. Combat is what makes players want to crunch numbers and min-max most of the time. Generally, players are happy to roll with horrible numbers when they roleplay.

If other aspects are encouraged like roleplay, having a home, forging relationships, haggling, etc then the players will not be so focused on number crunching to get the most optimal performance out of their data sheet—I mean character, yes character.

But this is damage control!

You are right laddie this is damage control! So we need to talk about what happens when A player is too powerful in D&D, and what you should do once you realize it happening.

Players generally become powerful in a slow manner. Everything above is about a player starting with an obviously overpowered character, but player power is not always this easy to detect.

A player gets one item, then two, then three until they don’t want or need anymore. A player started out okay but has now risen to a point where the party has become spectators. Yes, the party can become spectators and just watch a player take on an entire encounter or boss by themselves. I have had the party watch me do this when I was a player once, and I roleplayed. The game was all about me and I talked to the Dm to make a new character.

Generally, your players won’t want to make a new character. They like the power that they have gained. They like curb-stomping everything in their sight since it makes them feel like an almighty god!

How do you spot player power creep?

Power creep refers to a person or thing slowly gaining more and more power in comparison to its cohorts. Simplified, power creep is when a player becomes waaayyy more powerful than the others, or when the party becomes way too powerful.

So how do you stop this? You have to carefully monitor the numbers. You need to be like an accountant and constantly compare the damage, health, armor, saves etc to the monsters at this stage and the next.

Was that encounter too difficult? Why was it too difficult? Was the encounter too easy? Why was it too easy?

You need to be able to answer these questions. Sometimes it is the environment or extra circumstances put into the fight. A level one goblin can give a level three party a hard time if that goblin is in a forest littered with its own personal traps. The numbers are not the issue here, the environment is.

Did the boss die too easy? Well, the boss was made to be a tank and he died in one shot so either my party is pure damage per second machines, or I need to figure out what happened. Did I make the boss too easy? Are their bonuses too strong? You need to take a serious look at these possibilities and answer honestly.

But the player is already too powerful!

If your party or player is too powerful, you have a few options.

You can talk to your player or party. This is a good thing to do. If you are ever stuck as a dungeon master, talk to your party. Tell them about your plight and they will most likely try to help you.

Mitigate the advantage. You have given a warrior the sword or oblivion. It does what you think it does, obliviate anything it touches. So make an enemy fly. Make the terrain difficult. Make there be many enemies. Use magic. Do anything you can to mitigate the advantage.

Should you always do this? No! That player believes that they earned that power so do not make it useless, just make it not THE answer to a boss fight. If a fight is meant to be difficult, make it difficult for everyone including the player who is too powerful.

Boost the rest of the party.

Everyone should be powerful right? Well, why not make everyone powerful with items! This can have a negative consequence of making standard monsters trivial. If you go by the experience system, you cannot do this. I tried to do this in third edition and it was the main way that players leveled. If this is the best way to reward players, you are telling them to make broken characters. Don’t encourage this.

Instead, make everyone powerful and play by the milestone way. Have the players level when they accomplish something. This way, the monsters, and fights can become stronger/harder with almost no penalty.

If you are having trouble thinking of how to make fights more interesting, look to anime. Seriously, almost all of my level ten plus bosses turn into anime fights of some sort.

What not to do.

Take away the power. Never take away this power that was given to the players. You can talk with them and if they are the bigger person they will see the issue and try to fix it. This is rare. Most players have in their eyes earned this power.

Would you like it if someone gave you one million dollars, you start to use it, and then the money is ripped away from you? No! Same thing goes for the players. Don’t take away their hard-earned power!!!!

Do not shame them. I have seen this in some groups where a person is shamed for using this powerful item. If this happens, not only does that person feel belittled, but the whole group doesn’t want to try anything cool or game-breaking. This is terrible. Your party should be trying to break the game.

Did the bard really just convince the enemy wizard to cast fireball at him? The bard has immunity to fire right now, and the wizard doesn’t know it. Oh, also all the mage’s minions are around him.

What the??? No my plans!!!

These are where stories come from, insane stupid decisions. This is actually what Dungeons and Dragons is, stupid insane stories. If you ever shame someone for doing something perceived as ‘good’ you dissuade your party from ever doing these amazing things.

Always Remember…

To have fun for yourself and everyone. If there is an issue, talk to your players to find an answer. If they do not have an answer or want to help, then you can ask others.

If you want to get help or hear other stories, you can also check out my youtube channel here where I talk about Dungeons and Dragons help and stories.

This has been Wizo and keep rolling!

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