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D&D General DM Says No Powergaming?

iserith

Magic Wordsmith
This is why I still maintain that a  lot of posters on this site (or at least several prolific ones) are big 4e fans.

Regardless of your perspective, the rules are still considered more important than the story, such that the fiction should be molded so that the rules effect makes sense. I dont recall any advice suggesting otherwise, and back in the day when I asked about this stuff, people would encourage me to literally make something up so that the rules effect remained unchanged. I found that extremely irritating, and I still do. Its one of the reasons that I left 4e after playing it for about 18 months.

Anyway, bashing 4e is not my intent. I just didn't care for it personally.
Another way to look at it is that interacting with the rules, players decisions, and dice in that and other games is producing the story. It's a fiction generation engine. Just by playing and trying to interpreting the rules into what's going on in the setting, you end up with a story.
 

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Levistus's_Leviathan

5e Freelancer
I'm talking about mechanical consequences, stuff you can't ignore or avoid in the game. Your suggestions are all narrative consequences.
A curse doesn't count as a "mechanical consequence"? Having a bunch of NPCs that could kill you hunting you down doesn't count as a "mechanical consequence"? They're both narrative and mechanical. Yours are just mechanical. They don't add to the story. They're just putting a player in time-out for part of the campaign.
As far as fairness goes, ok. I strongly believe that your choice of fictional power source has appropriate, verisimilitudinous effects, so if fairness is an issue, I would find a way for similar consequences for other classes. They would just have to be based on PC choices in a similar way.
Except you don't have similar consequences for other classes. That's where this whole tangent came from. Me saying that I would only do that if all of the classes had similar consequences, and you saying that it's totally fine for the DM to unfairly punish the players for decisions that you could have forced them into.
 

Micah Sweet

Level Up & OSR Enthusiast
Fo
A curse doesn't count as a "mechanical consequence"? Having a bunch of NPCs that could kill you hunting you down doesn't count as a "mechanical consequence"? They're both narrative and mechanical. Yours are just mechanical. They don't add to the story. They're just putting a player in time-out for part of the campaign.

Except you don't have similar consequences for other classes. That's where this whole tangent came from. Me saying that I would only do that if all of the classes had similar consequences, and you saying that it's totally fine for the DM to unfairly punish the players for decisions that you could have forced them into.
For one thing, I don't believe what I am proposing doesn't add to the story. Countless tales of a character losing their powers temporarily and having to deal for an episode or two exist, and I don't see any reason why something like that couldn't happen at the table.

Secondly, I'm not forcing any one to betray their power source, and I don't understand why you would make that assumption, if I'm understanding you. I simply don't like the idea that a story beat of that sort is off the table. I'm definitely willing to find a way to have similar consequences for other classes. That's a compromise I am willing to make.
 

It would seem Wikipedia--with actual citations, I might add--disagrees. Bolded for emphasis.

"Another form of powergaming involves a focus on acquiring power during game progression, often by acquiring powerful equipment or unusual abilities. This lends itself to gameplay which is materialistic (and often, in the context of the game world, arguably amoral) and can frustrate other players who are looking to interact with the game world, score points, and not merely acquire game resources.[2] Another term for a powergamer is a munchkin,[3] who may be differentiated from normal powergamers to describe players who seek to acquire power and loot at the expense and disregard of their teammates.[4]"

Based on the above, "munchkin" is to "powergamer" as "square" is to "rectangle." You may not automatically be a munchkin if you're a powergamer, but every munchkin is a powergamer. Which fits perfectly into my claim that powergaming brings the temptation to do things in a crappy, socially-destructive way, a temptation that can be extremely strong because, in most D&D games, you need to be able to win fights quickly and efficiently if you want to succeed at your objectives.
Uh-huh, but your definition is seriously inaccurate frankly, and certainly not what most people in this thread mean (very clear from other posts), more importantly, and Wikipedia isn't great on this kind of thing.

The temptation to do things is not the same as doing things. And conflating the two is incredible! And your "the temptation is strong" is pretty silly, because experience shows that it's obviously easily demonstrated to be untrue. I've never seen a powergamer transition into munchkin behaviour. Not once in 34 years of TTRPGs.

I have seen the opposite transition - multiple times, in fact. Virtually all munchkins either quit TTRPGs when they realize people aren't cool with that, or they chill out into being powergamers.

So the square-rectangle analogy isn't entirely off, but it's a one-way transition in my experience and I've never even heard a STORY to the contrary. Have you even got a story of a powergamer suddenly going rabid and turning into a munchkin? It sounds an awful lot like "violent videogames make people violent" and similar slippery slope arguments.
 

Levistus's_Leviathan

5e Freelancer
For one thing, I don't believe what I am proposing doesn't add to the story. Countless tales of a character losing their powers temporarily and having to deal for an episode or two exist, and I don't see any reason why something like that couldn't happen at the table.
It adds "story" but not to the story of the game. It's not interesting for the player. You're taking away their most important class feature and basically making them dead weight for the duration of the "punishment". You're basically killing their character and not letting them replace it with another one until they appeal their patron or somehow find a new one. That's why I prefer in-game consequences instead of taking away their most important feature.
Secondly, I'm not forcing any one to betray their power source, and I don't understand why you would make that assumption, if I'm understanding you. I simply don't like the idea that a story beat of that sort is off the table. I'm definitely willing to find a way to have similar consequences for other classes. That's a compromise I am willing to make.
No, I'm not accusing you of doing that. I'm saying that there are some DMs that do/could force players to do that, and giving DMs the tool to abuse their power more is not a good thing.
 

Secondly, I'm not forcing any one to betray their power source, and I don't understand why you would make that assumption, if I'm understanding you. I simply don't like the idea that a story beat of that sort is off the table. I'm definitely willing to find a way to have similar consequences for other classes. That's a compromise I am willing to make.
I mean, the fact that you call it a compromise rather belies your words that you think characters should suffer it because it's a thing that happens narratively. If you genuinely believe that, why is it a compromise? What's being compromised? The idea that only Paladins, Clerics and maybe Warlocks should suffer from this? Or did you misspeak?

I think it's a story beat that you have to agree with players beforehand (not always immediately before, you could agree it as a general principle, though you'd need strong buy-in if you did that), just like a number of others. The difference between stories - as in books, radio, movies, TV, etc. is that no-one is playing those, and if you're playing Superman surrounded by Kryptonite for three episodes of Smallville or whatever, you're still getting to act like normal, still getting paid like normal, and so on. Players though, are losing something, they're losing the fun of playing their character the way they enjoy, and they're not getting anything in exchange. That doesn't mean it's out, but it does mean you should agree it, especially if it's going to rely on anything remotely subjective, and all the examples I can think of do (except, ironically, stealing a Wizard's spellbook, which you could do fully RAW/RAI with no subjectivity).

I mean, there are games that recognise this, and have been since the 1990s, I note - games which reward the character when their weaknesses are preyed upon, giving you extra XP or hero points/bennies/whatever. 5E doesn't have great tools for that though - in 2E if I'd done something like this I'd have probably given them a whole heap of extra XP for playing through it well, but I bet you some mean-spirited 2E sourcebook would have said the opposite lol.
 

Vaalingrade

Legend
It would seem Wikipedia--with actual citations, I might add--disagrees. Bolded for emphasis.

"Another form of powergaming involves a focus on acquiring power during game progression, often by acquiring powerful equipment or unusual abilities. This lends itself to gameplay which is materialistic (and often, in the context of the game world, arguably amoral) and can frustrate other players who are looking to interact with the game world, score points, and not merely acquire game resources.[2] Another term for a powergamer is a munchkin,[3] who may be differentiated from normal powergamers to describe players who seek to acquire power and loot at the expense and disregard of their teammates.[4]"

Based on the above, "munchkin" is to "powergamer" as "square" is to "rectangle." You may not automatically be a munchkin if you're a powergamer, but every munchkin is a powergamer. Which fits perfectly into my claim that powergaming brings the temptation to do things in a crappy, socially-destructive way, a temptation that can be extremely strong because, in most D&D games, you need to be able to win fights quickly and efficiently if you want to succeed at your objectives.
Fact of the matter is, both powergamer and munchkin are derogatory terms we shouldn't be using when we're pretending to have honest discussion when it comes to peoples' playstyles and preferences.

The second it gets pulled out, you're just trying to write a Reddit horror story.
 

Micah Sweet

Level Up & OSR Enthusiast
I mean, the fact that you call it a compromise rather belies your words that you think characters should suffer it because it's a thing that happens narratively. If you genuinely believe that, why is it a compromise? What's being compromised? The idea that only Paladins, Clerics and maybe Warlocks should suffer from this? Or did you misspeak?

I think it's a story beat that you have to agree with players beforehand (not always immediately before, you could agree it as a general principle, though you'd need strong buy-in if you did that), just like a number of others. The difference between stories - as in books, radio, movies, TV, etc. is that no-one is playing those, and if you're playing Superman surrounded by Kryptonite for three episodes of Smallville or whatever, you're still getting to act like normal, still getting paid like normal, and so on. Players though, are losing something, they're losing the fun of playing their character the way they enjoy, and they're not getting anything in exchange. That doesn't mean it's out, but it does mean you should agree it, especially if it's going to rely on anything remotely subjective, and all the examples I can think of do (except, ironically, stealing a Wizard's spellbook, which you could do fully RAW/RAI with no subjectivity).

I mean, there are games that recognise this, and have been since the 1990s, I note - games which reward the character when their weaknesses are preyed upon, giving you extra XP or hero points/bennies/whatever. 5E doesn't have great tools for that though - in 2E if I'd done something like this I'd have probably given them a whole heap of extra XP for playing through it well, but I bet you some mean-spirited 2E sourcebook would have said the opposite lol.
Buy-in is important, and I would never spring something like this at a player without letting them know in session 0 that I would like this sort of plot to be a possibility, and asking for that buy-in.

I do think the general narrative of warlocks, clerics and similar classes does make the "lose your powers" plot more plausible then it would be for say, a fighter, and I don't like the idea of it just not being allowed because having super powers is more important than where those powers come from. I don't even think my players would object to what I'm proposing, and I'm not asking for the game to force the issue.
 

tetrasodium

Legend
Supporter
Epic
I mean, the fact that you call it a compromise rather belies your words that you think characters should suffer it because it's a thing that happens narratively. If you genuinely believe that, why is it a compromise? What's being compromised? The idea that only Paladins, Clerics and maybe Warlocks should suffer from this? Or did you misspeak?

I think it's a story beat that you have to agree with players beforehand (not always immediately before, you could agree it as a general principle, though you'd need strong buy-in if you did that), just like a number of others. The difference between stories - as in books, radio, movies, TV, etc. is that no-one is playing those, and if you're playing Superman surrounded by Kryptonite for three episodes of Smallville or whatever, you're still getting to act like normal, still getting paid like normal, and so on. Players though, are losing something, they're losing the fun of playing their character the way they enjoy, and they're not getting anything in exchange. That doesn't mean it's out, but it does mean you should agree it, especially if it's going to rely on anything remotely subjective, and all the examples I can think of do (except, ironically, stealing a Wizard's spellbook, which you could do fully RAW/RAI with no subjectivity).

I mean, there are games that recognise this, and have been since the 1990s, I note - games which reward the character when their weaknesses are preyed upon, giving you extra XP or hero points/bennies/whatever. 5E doesn't have great tools for that though - in 2E if I'd done something like this I'd have probably given them a whole heap of extra XP for playing through it well, but I bet you some mean-spirited 2E sourcebook would have said the opposite lol.
How unreasonable of the GM to tell Finn that he betrayed the empire & no longer gets free ammunition armor repairs heavy artillery platform checkouts & eye care coverage ;)
 


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