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D&D General DM Says No Powergaming?

Mostly because combat is the only thing that actually stands a decent chance of taking away your ability to continue participating.

Depends on the game. If your "optimizer" has charisma 8 and no persuasiom and tries to sweet talk an NPC with "good roleplaying" , then still let them roll for success.

Some good roleplaying powergamers can afford to just optimize combat because they are good at talking and their 8 charisma is often forgotten. And if you as a DM don't enforce rolls, their is no downside to optimizing for combat.
 

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isn't part of the basic definition of a powergamer basically that they'll take a mechanically effective option over a weaker but thematic one? i don't see how that wouldn't conflict with a character focused game, either by undermining the character for power choices or just making an incredibly shallow character
Eh, I have a powergamer in my group (I’m not using the term in a derogatory manner). He chooses the most powerful option for character, then crafts the fiction around the mechanical choices.

It doesn’t make him less of a “role” roleplayer. It is also worth noting that very, very, very many of the best mechanical choices don’t impact a character’s narrative.
 

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.
This is a better description of how my powergaming friend makes his character. Make the best mechanical choices: the character emerges from those choices.

Not wrong, just different.
 

EzekielRaiden

Follower of the Way
Depends on the game. If your "optimizer" has charisma 8 and no persuasiom and tries to sweet talk an NPC with "good roleplaying" , then still let them roll for success.

Some good roleplaying powergamers can afford to just optimize combat because they are good at talking and their 8 charisma is often forgotten. And if you as a DM don't enforce rolls, their is no downside to optimizing for combat.
But, again, the critical thing is that failing a social roll almost never results in losing your ability to keep playing the character. Even failing a complex social scenario almost completely doesn't. Because the main way to take away the character after a bad social encounter....is to have them get into a fight. Which they're already optimized for.

Keep in mind, I do care about this sort of thing, and as far as I can tell I have done a fairly good job of getting my players to care too. I'm talking about players who don't care. Who only care about survival value. How do you give those flopped social rolls bite? How do you make it so they have consequences the player will care about? You must threaten their ability to keep playing their character. How do you do that? By threatening bodily harm or the loss of material goods. How do you cause bodily harm or take away material goods? Violence.

5e, like most editions of D&D,* simply doesn't offer grounds under which serious threats to the character's wellbeing can be mechanically articulated outside of combat. And because they can't be mechanically articulated, simply inflicted as a punishment, they're going to come across as arbitrary and punitive in many, perhaps most, situations. Optimizing for combat means optimizing for dealing with the most significant punitive thing the DM can do besides rug-pulling and "rocks fall, everyone dies" type stuff, which would be dealt with via the social contract regardless.

That's why you don't see a more mixed presentation of this stuff--why it almost always centers on combat, even though there are lots of things to optimize for. 5e, like most editions of D&D,* doesn't actually support using it for situations where the greatest threats the player characters might face have nothing to do with physical violence.

*There's a reason I use this phrasing.

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.
It took me some time to ruminate on this, but no, you are not correct here. The rules are not considered more important than the story--or at least that wasn't the intent. Nor was the intent to have the fiction "molded" around the rules. Because that, again, puts the rules absolutely, exclusively first, and that's incorrect.

The idea is that the two are simultaneous--and that you should, ideally, be able to think about things in narrative terms and derive correct mechanical conclusions, or in mechanical terms and derive correct narrative conclusions. Hence why I love the LoH structure--because, while I have no actual documentation to back it up, I am completely confident that they sat down and asked, "How would we make a power that has the Paladin sacrificing some of their own health to heal someone else?"

If you have the fundamental underlying math down, so that it really, truly works, in straightforward and well-explained ways, then the difference between thinking about things in mechanical terms and thinking about them in narrative terms blurs, and hopefully disappears entirely. There ceases to be any meaning to the idea that "rules come first" or "fiction comes first." To think about the rules is, by definition and without separation, to be thinking about the fiction; and to think about the fiction is, by definition and without separation, to be thinking about the rules.

This is why I am such a fan of both Dungeon World and 4e and its relatives (like 13A.) They reach the same point from opposite directions. DW abides in the fiction and very, very carefully constructed and tested its rules until following them was, in all but highly unusual cases, identical to whatever the fiction actually called for. 4e built a robust, scalable rules framework, and then carefully constructed rules elements so that using them is (or should be) the same as telling a story about them. Rules only "came first" for 4e in the sense that the mathematics were nailed down by the designers and made consistent in order that storytelling would be as close to 1:1 equivalent with invoking the rules. Once you, the end user, are invoking them? Telling a story should be using the rules and using the rules should be telling a story. Consistently.
 

That is how it works in D&D. I just feel making the choice to hitch your star to another being for power should have some teeth to it, and am a little irked that the default rules basically encourage you to not care about that, because it makes no difference mechanically.
Except that’s true with most classes. I tend to avoid playing clerics, because a lot of adventures are really bad at justifying why it advances the agenda of the god of the sky to march into a dungeon, kill its inhabitants and take their stuff. Wizards are even worse for having mechanics at odds with their narrative! They increase their power not by staying in their tower and studying, researching new spells, but by going out and adventuring. Druids very often do very little stewardship of natural spaces.

Ironically, bards are probably the best at this because every bard I’ve ever seen is always either performing for money or working on their oeuvre.
 

Stormonu

Legend
I ask my players not to seek out "I win" button combos, and if something becomes problematic I'll deal with it if it rears its ugly head.

Overall, I try not to be too fussed about things. I run a wide variety of encounters and scenarios, and the more a player's character leans into a one-trick pony scheme (super-high AC, massive damage output with one attack form), the more likely it will backfire spectacularly in a given scenario.

As an example, had a player with a super-high AC through magic armor and spells that was practically unhittable unless the monsters rolled a 20. Did him a fair lot of good when he had to make a Dex save to avoid falling into an acid pit with his 8 Dex. And being the fighter with the only decent Strength (and not the only one who fell in and needed rescuing), it was impossible for the other PCs to pull his butt out until he was a few slivers of bone remaining. The next character was a little more balanced. The pit, by the way, wasn't thrown in specifically to deal with this character - it was simply a part of the adventure module they were going through.
 

But, again, the critical thing is that failing a social roll almost never results in losing your ability to keep playing the character. Even failing a complex social scenario almost completely doesn't. Because the main way to take away the character after a bad social encounter....is to have them get into a fight. Which they're already optimized for.

There are combats even an optimized character can't win. You can say, this is a "rocks fall, you are dead" situation. But I disagree. If you maneuver yourself in a situation where you have to fight overwhelming foes, that is on you, not on the DM.

Also: the failure does not always have to result in combat. It can just mean, that they won't get help with soldiers, magic items which means, the party might have to deal with everything on their own. So they might be more specialized for combat, but they also have to face harder combats and thus are in more danger than the normal party.

So maybe it is not entirely on the optimizers... sometimes, or even often enough it is the DM who starts an arm's race. If you teach your players, that a failed social encounter always results in a hard combat, of course this is what they start preparing for.

I know this feeling as a player. I have built characters that used cunning and illusions and disguises to do things. In some games it was fun. In other games, after the first session I knew, that I should just let this character die and build a fighting machine instead.
 

Oofta

Legend
As I stated much further up thread, powergamers are not necessarily a problem. It depends on the group and what they enjoy, I used to DM a public game that had a group we called "The Cheese Weasels". This was in 3.5, and they had all worked together to create the most broken PC group possible. I didn't really understand the appeal but they had fun. More power to them.

To me the real issue is the glory hog, which has an overlap with powergamer. The glory hog wants to be the driving force of the game, whether in combat or out. They seem to view the game as a competition not just with foiling anything the DM does but also being more important than the rest of the PCs.

An example of a glory hog powergamer was Jo. Jo ran a cleric that took the noble class and decided they had two retainers. Those retainers were supposed be just commoners that don't do much of anything. But ... Jo talked the DM into letting the retainers gain levels of cleric and they became sort-of-henchmen sidekicks. Nobody else had sidekicks, but when it came to Jo's turn they were running 3 characters. Then Jo talked the DM into letting them take a custom class that basically gave them all the benefits of a warlock in addition to being a cleric.

The group eventually had an intervention with the DM and said that all this was not cool, and the retainers were written out of the game. But Jo was that kind of person that would always push the boundaries, always wanting more. For example when the group was telling everyone what they had done during a downtime break for the PCs, they declared that they had hopped up to Valhalla and had tea and crumpets with Odin over the weekend. This in a campaign where the gods were distant and unreachable. The PC was level 10 at the time. Then they would say that they could find any McGuffin or creature anywhere in the world because "Odin saw all" and they could just chat with his god buddy who would look for him.

In some ways they were a great addition to the game because he was invested in the game and their PC. But they always wanted to be the star of the show, always one-upping everyone else. No matter how many times we tried to explain it, no matter how often the DM said "No, it doesn't work that way" it just never sunk in what the issues were. They were not just a powergamer, it wasn't that they were not a roleplayer. It was that they were a glory hog who wanted to dominate the game.
 

Blue

Ravenous Bugblatter Beast of Traal
The thing about the Stormwind fallacy is that it's only a fallacy if you assume that all power gamers are bad at role-playing. It in no way prevents some actual power gamers from being bad at role-playing. I've played with dozens of them in my time. It's fallacious to assume. But it's not fallacious to point it out when you run into them at your table.
Agreed. So the concept that "all powergamers are bad at roleplaying" is disproven, so hius statement about ot allwoing powergamers for that reason is no good. I amperfectly fine with "I don't allow people who aren't into character and story", which could easily include some powergamers on that list. But trying to say that they don't like powergamers because powergamers have those characteristics is wrong.
 

My problem is "power gaming" is not definable before character creation.

If Jon and Ross each make a fighter and a rogue but Jon decides his fighter uses a short sword, and Ross decides his rogue is more a detective so he is going more unarmed strike... and I make an artificer I might be a better fighter and a better rogue and still have spells.

If on the other hand we have a hexblade/paliden and a bladesinger wizard instead then I make a great weapon fighting fighter I might be underpowered.

the game isn't balanced. In order to balance everyone needs to be similar build.
 

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