How to deal with Problem powergamers in D&D

powergamers

I wrote an article speaking about how powergamers in D&D can be a good thing, but most of the time when we think of powergamers we think of problem powergamers in D&D. These are the people who suck the fun out of life and make the game unbearable place everyone.

How do you deal with these kinds of leeches?

You must set expectations, use consequences, stick to what you say, and deal with them based on their type of problem powergamer in D&D.

Set expectations

Generally, this only works if you know someone is going to be a power gamer. But explaining what type of game you want to run in session 0 will make your life a lot easier. It will solve the powergaming problems, and you will learn right away if someone is trying to use the system in a very cheap way.

Powergamers in D&D can be a good thing, but sometimes they can be a thorn in the dungeon master’s side. If you set the expectations of what you want in your game in session 0, you will solve most of these problems. In addition, you will be able to address the powergaming issue if that player is already causing trouble.

But how would a powergamer cause trouble?

Immature powergamers

If any of you played in high school, chances are that you ran into a powergamer. Most teenagers at that stage in their life just want to kill things, get away with things, or socially experiment. This is not the teenager’s fault. Teenagers are immature and trying to figure out the world. Bad powergaming just to fulfill a power fantasy can be expected. If you have played with these people I apologize for them and ask for them to not skew your view of powergamers.

But what about those who are not in high school, but are still immature? These people come to the game, bully others, and want the game to be all about them. Most of the time, you can work with these people and teach them what Dungeons and Dragons is really about. You can teach most of them because they are new players to the game and don’t know what Dungeons and Dragons is actually like.

There are always some bad apples, and we will talk about how to deal with them later, but what are some other issues that powergamers in D&D have?

Murder hobos and exploitation

I wrote an article on how to deal with murder hobos and many powergamers try to express their power fantasy through sheer brutality. Deal with them like you would a murder hobo and hopefully they will change.

There are powergamers in D&D that try to make the world bend to their knee through roleplay or interactions with the world. Some of these can be good and creative. An example of a good and creative solution is using an illusion to trick the townspeople into thinking that their god expected the villagers to pay the adventurers more, and that they have already completed the quest. This is awesome, annoying, and something that any dungeon master would love and hate to have in their game.

Bad powergaming involving roleplay is a lot harder to see in action. I have only seen it a few times, but a powergamer can try to ‘convince’ a party member through a persuasion check. Bad powergamers can also try to force others to do things because the rules say so. Simply make a rule to not allow persuasion to be used on party members, and your problem is solved.

You are the dungeon master you need to put your foot down! If you are not the dungeon master talk to your dungeon master and make him/her put their foot down and stick to this rule. It will make the game more fun, and disallow the coercive use of the rules.

Misunderstanding rules

Ah yes, the ever lovely rules misinterpretation. I admit that I misinterpret the rules a lot and forget to read one sentence in the chapter or one word in the description that completely changes things. It happens and if it is an honest mistake just let it slide. Don’t let it slide if your player is manipulating you.

How do you know when your player is manipulating you? If a player ever says ‘trust me’ do not trust them. Instantly do the opposite since they are most of the time trying to get away with something and they know that they should not. These players are a pain to deal with and are called rules lawyers.

I talk about rules advocates being a good thing in the good powergamer article, but rules lawyers are a menace. These individuals try to use the rules to get what they want, but conveniently forget a rule that would hinder them. Don’t trust these people. Dungeon masters need to put their metaphorical foot down and say ‘No. We are doing it this way for now but we can talk about it after the game.’

These players will pester you at first, but if you do not yield even after the game, they will learn to not waste their time trying to convince you. Only do this if the powergamer has shown cheating behavior and make it clear that is why you do not trust them. They will stop intentionally misunderstanding the rules fast.

Powergamers breaking the game

Players breaking your game is generally expected and an awesome thing since your players are showing creativity. It is not good when only one of your players has +13 to hit and the other fighter in the group has a +6 to hit. This is when something must be done.

The dungeon master needs to pull these players aside or just ask the party if it affects everyone what they think of this. I stress however that the dungeon master only needs to do this if there is a problem.

If a player has +13 to hit while the other has +6 AND everyone is okay with it, roll with it. Make the enemies target the threat first that never misses, and now the party can try to protect this person or let them die. The same thing happens with a mage or cleric.

If your player is breaking the game so that others are not having fun anymore, now something needs to change. Either have that player try to in a non pushy way educate the other players or ask that player to do something different.

A powergamer stepping down

A great example of this is when I played a game, and it got to the point where the party sat by and watched me solo a boss. This boss was meant to fight the whole party, but my party members just sat back and literally ate popcorn since we had some in the session.

I talked to the dungeon master afterward and asked to change my character. Not to make a more broken character, but to instead make something that will not make the party feel worthless. He agreed and I made a new character so that we all can have fun.

Will your powergamer see this and ask you to switch their character? Most likely not if they are a bad powergamer. Instead, you will have to talk to them and ask them to possibly change their character and try something new. Explain why you are asking them to change characters, and they will most likely understand. If not, give them a challenge.

Powergamers in D&D always like to have goals and a challenge, so provide them one. Make them play a character that is suboptimal, and challenge them to do amazing things with it. Can they play a game with a charisma based rogue that has almost no strength or dexterity?

Use consequences

I wrote an article on using consequences, but this applies even more so here. If a powergamer is using loopholes, abusing the rules, and just trying to pull one over on you, think of what consequences their actions can incur.

If the powergamers in D&D do something illegal have other adventurers hunt them down. Your players are not the only ones in the world. Use the entire world in order to make it run. If you are having trouble with this, think what would happen if the horrible action your players did just happened to them. What would they do if they were in the other person’s shoes?

A great example of this is shops. If your players ran a shop what would they do to protect the items? What characteristics have they shown? Use those ideas and make sure that your power gamers can’t just up the numbers by illegal activities.

Powergamers telling others how to play

We all play in our own way. The bad powergamer will want to make everyone play his/her way in order to maximize their game. Once the players have converted to their mentality, the powergamers new minions I mean allies will be better equipped to help the powergamer in his/her quest for glory!

That is what many powergamers in D&D think, but it is just not the case. Despite this not being reality, many bad powergamers will try to force other players to improve their characters and shame them if the player doesn’t want to. If you see this happening, simply put a stop to it by saying that other people play their characters differently.

Eventually, your powergamer might just give a little bit of advice here and there to improve a character, but be perfectly fine with rejection if that player doesn’t want to listen to the advice. This is fine, but just make sure no one is being too pushy or telling them how to play the game. Unless of course, they need help remembering basic rules.

Last words on bad powergamers

If you have a bad powergamer, write down any fishy thing that they do. This is a good practice to have just in case so that you can figure out the proper rules later.

Know the rules. If you know the rules or do a basic look at each player’s abilities, you will be able to stop a lot of the stupid things that powergamers in D&D try to get away with. Always be willing to take a moment and check the rules, or say that you can talk about the rule after the game. Don’t just cave into whatever people say, even if that person is a rules advocate.

Lastly, cheaters are not powergamers. If a person is hiding roles, character sheets, or other things of this nature they are cheaters. Please do not confuse these people with powergamers, and deal with them appropriately. If a cheater whines about ‘but the rules say’ then shut them down and say that you are doing it your way.

Conclusion

That was a harsh article tonely but bad powergamers in D&D are a problem that needs to be dealt with.

This is a bit persona since I am a powergamer, but I always try my best to roleplay, have fun, and never infringe upon others.

I hope that I have helped you deal with bad powergamers, and if so tell me what helped you. If you have any thoughts on how to deal with bad powergamers, then leave a comment below.

Not every powergamer is bad, so I would love to hear about your positive experiences with them as well. Don’t forget to check out the article on good powergamers.

This has been Wizo and keep rolling!

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