Recently we received an email from a DM having problems with one of his players. We found what the DM stated is a common problem in some D&D groups. Here is the email and our response to our troubled DM.
Troubled Player In My Campaign
I have a player in my campaign who is causing some troubles for me as a DM and for some of my players.
He is what we refer to as a “goober” meaning he “goobs” the rules to create the hands down most powerful character he can. He pours over the books looking for combinations of feats/skills/abilities/stats for hours on end. He enjoys having an armor class of 20+ at 2nd level or creating fighter types who can kill 5 goblins in one round at low level.
It really isn’t a huge deal, but it seems that any creatures I throw at the party are either a challenge for him, but too much for everyone else, or a challenge for everyone else and not enough for him.
I have talked to him about it and tried to sell him on the whole, “it isn’t your stats or skills or abilities that make a character cool, it’s your background and personality and getting ‘into’ your characters mind and psyche that makes it fun to play.” But he retorts saying that unless he is the best at one aspect of DnD, he won’t have fun. He has to be better than everyone else (PC’s and NPC’s alike) at what he does. He “needs” as high of stats as possible, needs to have the skills he does have maxed out, needs to have the most damaging weapon, needs to have the most attacks per rounds or the most powerful spells, etc etc.
It is starting to just outright get on my nerves and I find myself losing my cool a bit when I run games for my group. It has made GM’ing less enjoyable for me, and some of my players have said they don’t really like playing with him anymore.
Is there any advice you can give on how to deal with people like this? If so I would greatly appreciate it, as would my players.
Dear Troubled DM,
HI, and thanks for your letter, we are always happy to help out a fellow DM.
Alas I am very familiar with your problem. In 25 years of gaming I have seen quite a few Power Players. Your player is suffering from what we call “The pro from Dover Syndrome” He has to find a way to be the best at something. He is only interested in smashing things, and gaining more pluses than anyone else.
You do however have some options, It sounds like you play 3rd edition DnD. At low levels fighter types tend to be the most powerful class. He probably creates PC’s with a high strength,dex, and con, while ignoring his other stats. Your best bet is to hit him where he is weak. Devise some encounters that must be role-played out or some elaborate puzzles or traps that require thinking. Also to create interesting challenges add in a monster or 2 just for him.
EXAMPLE: Low level party faces a group of orcs, well add in an ogre that attacks him specifically. EXP in 3rd edition is group based so it does not penalize the other players and he may actually need their help once they have beaten the orcs.
Lastly, if he can’t adjust to the play styles of others and is becoming an annoyance, you may have to consider dumping him. Sometimes groups have to get rid of players who cause too much tension. If its a group of close friends that may really not be an option but as the DM you dictate the style of play and the players will look to you to solve these problems.
So, good luck to you and write again if you need more help or other ideas.