Over powered character in group

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Re: Over powered character in group

Postby soltakss » Thu Sep 13, 2012 2:48 pm

alex_greene wrote:Curiously enough, in more than 30 years of roleplaying, I have never heard of a character going overpowered in skills such as Mechanisms, Culture, Sing, Play Instrument, Survival, Boating or Seduction. You'd have thought that someone might have tried minmaxing their Athletics, Sing, Dance, Play (Stringed Instrument), Culture, couple of Lores and Seduction to turn into a right Don Juan / Casanova, or even maximise Perception and Insight and turn into a real Sherlock Holmes type, but no ... right for the combat styles and magic, in that order, every time.
Oh, we have.

Our "Talky" is far better than our "Fighty" at communication and social interaction and our "Spirity" is far better at spirits and magic, whereas our "Fighty" is way, way better at combat and death-magic.
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Re: Over powered character in group

Postby Lemnoc » Thu Sep 13, 2012 6:06 pm

All said, though, one character with an extremely high DEX and multiple CAs can leave other players waiting around for their turn, whether that high DEX character is being a team player, a jackass, or not. The high DEX gives the player a Strike Rank that allows her to set the tone for the Combat Round, plus with the CAs she gets to mop up. She not only goes first, she also goes last; while other players munch their chips or doodle or stare at the ceiling. Again and again.

It's something to be aware of. Not a flaw, per se, but a pacing challenge—and a routine one, at that—for the GM managing this group.
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Re: Over powered character in group

Postby alex_greene » Thu Sep 13, 2012 7:31 pm

Lemnoc wrote:All said, though, one character with an extremely high DEX and multiple CAs can leave other players waiting around for their turn, whether that high DEX character is being a team player, a jackass, or not. The high DEX gives the player a Strike Rank that allows her to set the tone for the Combat Round, plus with the CAs she gets to mop up. She not only goes first, she also goes last; while other players munch their chips or doodle or stare at the ceiling. Again and again..
I gave my Saurian Queen caste unusually high DEX - the highest DEX, I believe, of all the castes. Meaning she was not only a substantially smart creature, but blindingly fast too. Think of the Alien Queen from, well, Aliens, only three times faster.

Which also gives you something to think on, should you need a foe worthy of your tank PC.
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Re: Over powered character in group

Postby Mixster » Thu Sep 13, 2012 9:10 pm

alex_greene wrote:Curiously enough, in more than 30 years of roleplaying, I have never heard of a character going overpowered in skills such as Mechanisms, Culture, Sing, Play Instrument, Survival, Boating or Seduction. You'd have thought that someone might have tried minmaxing their Athletics, Sing, Dance, Play (Stringed Instrument), Culture, couple of Lores and Seduction to turn into a right Don Juan / Casanova, or even maximise Perception and Insight and turn into a real Sherlock Holmes type, but no ... right for the combat styles and magic, in that order, every time.
In those 30 years, have all the games been centered around combat? Because if so, I can guess why that's the trend.

If not, well then I don't guess being the best guy around at swinging a sword will help you solve the murder case.
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Re: Over powered character in group

Postby Lemnoc » Thu Sep 13, 2012 9:26 pm

Mixster wrote:In those 30 years, have all the games been centered around combat? Because if so, I can guess why that's the trend.

If not, well then I don't guess being the best guy around at swinging a sword will help you solve the murder case.
I gotta admit that most of the campaigns I've run over the years using RQ-style rules have been a bit combat heavy. I think it is because it is such a good combat system play just naturally goes that way, it invites that kind of focus. If I were going to run a campaign with a reduced focus on combat—horror or mystery, say—my impulse would be to employ a different ruleset. Something that glosses or abstracts combat, makes it less sexy.

Not because you could not run such a game with Legend rules, no. No. But different tools for different jobs.
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Re: Over powered character in group

Postby rust » Thu Sep 13, 2012 9:50 pm

Lemnoc wrote: I gotta admit that most of the campaigns I've run over the years using RQ-style rules have been a bit combat heavy. I think it is because it is such a good combat system play just naturally goes that way, it invites that kind of focus.
In my case it was just the opposite, I used the games of the RQ family
because the system provides all the the skills required for my preferred
pseudo-historical campaigns where combat is not at all an important
element (and usually a sure sign that something has gone wrong very
badly). The way I see the combat rules, their high lethality actually dis-
courages combat heavy campaigns, at least when the average NPC is
just as well trained and experienced as the average PC.
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Re: Over powered character in group

Postby Lemnoc » Thu Sep 13, 2012 10:14 pm

rust wrote:where combat is not at all an important
element (and usually a sure sign that something has gone wrong very
badly). The way I see the combat rules, their high lethality actually dis-
courages combat heavy campaigns, at least when the average NPC is
just as well trained and experienced as the average PC.
Yes; I guess I should have expanded that most combat plays out in a fairly circumspect and tactical way, which these rules provide the mechanism for. For pure a hack-&-slash gorefest, not my thing, I would probably drift toward more Munchkinesque rules. :lol:
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Re: Over powered character in group

Postby havercake lad » Thu Sep 13, 2012 10:17 pm

soltakss wrote:
alex_greene wrote:Curiously enough, in more than 30 years of roleplaying, I have never heard of a character going overpowered in skills such as Mechanisms, Culture, Sing, Play Instrument, Survival, Boating or Seduction. You'd have thought that someone might have tried minmaxing their Athletics, Sing, Dance, Play (Stringed Instrument), Culture, couple of Lores and Seduction to turn into a right Don Juan / Casanova, or even maximise Perception and Insight and turn into a real Sherlock Holmes type, but no ... right for the combat styles and magic, in that order, every time.
One of my experienced characters has a Carouse skill that's superior to all his other skills, martial or otherwise.
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Re: Over powered character in group

Postby Olaus Petrus » Fri Sep 14, 2012 7:40 am

Mixster wrote:In those 30 years, have all the games been centered around combat? Because if so, I can guess why that's the trend.

If not, well then I don't guess being the best guy around at swinging a sword will help you solve the murder case.
I have played practically every type of character there is during my gaming history, even tanks. Playing as tank can be fun in certain type of campaigns, while playing as talkative character is fun in others. Usually I try to make balanced character who can do something else, but also knows fighting or combat magic. The reason why I almost always take at least some fighting skills is that many players and GMs love to have at least small amount of fighting in their games and if your fighting skills are zero your character will get killed rather soon (I have experience about this). Only game where I have had very successful characters who didn't have any fighting skills is Call of Cthulhu, where I have played characters like history professor in Arkham University, photo journalist, antique dealer etc. In that game running away is way more important than fighting. :)

In any case I have noticed that amount of players really affects to how fight heavy scenarios you can run. If there are less than 4 players then it's easier to run adventures with a lot of talking and investigating, without any fighting. But if you're running game to 5-6 people then it's likely that few more talkative persons will take the lead and do all the talking and investigating, despite your attempts to encourage everyone to participate. And at least the player of the warrior character with no social skills will become very bored unless you give them at least one fight during the session. The fact is that even if you don't have relevant skills, but there are only few players you get a lot of "screen time" and you can try roleplaying your character and interacting with the NPCs even without the relevant skills. But when there's 6 players then there's less "screen time" for your character and usually group decides that the one with highest skill will do the talking.
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Re: Over powered character in group

Postby Da Boss » Fri Sep 14, 2012 8:11 am

havercake lad wrote:
soltakss wrote:
alex_greene wrote:Curiously enough, in more than 30 years of roleplaying, I have never heard of a character going overpowered in skills such as Mechanisms, Culture, Sing, Play Instrument, Survival, Boating or Seduction. You'd have thought that someone might have tried minmaxing their Athletics, Sing, Dance, Play (Stringed Instrument), Culture, couple of Lores and Seduction to turn into a right Don Juan / Casanova, or even maximise Perception and Insight and turn into a real Sherlock Holmes type, but no ... right for the combat styles and magic, in that order, every time.
One of my experienced characters has a Carouse skill that's superior to all his other skills, martial or otherwise.
Indeed some of my best skills are Influence and Seduction..............and its not the firs ttime I haev done this - also made up pre gens for players along these lines which they loved....
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Re: Over powered character in group

Postby DamonJynx » Fri Sep 14, 2012 11:53 am

All of the replies to this post offer excellent advice. I aim to have at least 1, certainly no more than 3 combat encounters per session - IMO combat is far too lethal for more. Our group is still a little in 'D&D' mode where combat skills are normally maxed out. On the other hand in a campaign one of the other guys run, I have a thief type character whose combat skills are on par with his other key skills; stealth, mechanisms and streetwise. He's no mug in a fight, but prefers to strike from the shadows using ranged weapons rather than go head-to-head in melee (the bonus' make up for his lack of skill).
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Re: Over powered character in group

Postby alex_greene » Fri Sep 14, 2012 4:15 pm

:D I just thought of something. You could develop a tank of a character, but give him high CHA and overburden him with social skills as well, thus causing immense ructions when he not only dominates the battlefield - he also tends to walk away with the pretty barmaid afterwards. and all he has to do is just smile and say "Thank you very much" a lot ... even if that's the only thing he knows in the language. :D

Games Masters, and this bit is for you, if it looks like you've got one character dominating the game's proceedings, don't just nerf the guy or find ways to sideline the player. Just aim for a little balance between how long the characters get to shine.

Not all the stories in Stargate were about Teal'c - it was an ensemble cast, and even the minor B-team characters got their chance to shine. Once a year on CSI: Crime Scene Investigation, the Lab Rats got their show segment to themselves, with the A players occasionally swooping in to mess things up or to remind them that they are on a schedule with that Trace report ...

And while there were some amazing episodes of Next Gen, DS9 and even Voyager and Enterprise themed around one character, pretty much all of the post-87 24th century Star Trek was an ensemble cast, with one or another character getting to make the decisive action that saves the day (unlike TOS, where it was pretty much Captain Kirk who'd save the day and get the girl, almost every single time).

So don't think like Doctor Who, where it's all about the Doctor, and his Companions are only there to have someone to explain to. Think of it like Babylon 5, where you'd have your A story - which could be about Sheridan and Delenn, or G'Kar and Londo - and then you might have your B story, where it would be about Lennier or Vir Cotto or Zack Allen. And sometimes the entire story might be A reel, and focus on someone other than Sheridan, such as Garibaldi.

As long as you understand that it's okay to have a focus on one character, because the story you're running is about that character - but that focus can shift, expand, contract to a tiny point, blur or encompass the whole group at any time.

Keep it going, keep it shifting, and everyone will get their chance to shine even if, say, they aren't tanks or great seducers, or particularly good at anything skill wise. It's their courage and their willingness to jump in to danger feet first and eyes wide open that makes them Legends, not the numbers on their character sheets.

I should be doing this for Mongoose, for money, shouldn't I?
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Re: Over powered character in group

Postby Mage » Sat Sep 15, 2012 12:05 am

@ Halfbat

You raise accurate points.

I will do an ambush or surprise attack in future.

The problem with your third point is that 3 out of the 5 players are wargamers and would not have as big issued with credibility/vulnerability/protection and play board games competitively sometimes (leading sometimes to ‘every man for himself) though they do on occasion help each other out. Still, I would not like to potentially kill of a character to teach another PC a lesson. Stuff like vulnerable PCs getting a chunk torn out of them is something to be fixed later rather than prevented in the first place to them. Therefore, for my group of PCs I do not think it will work. Regarding the fanaticism, he is part of a knightly order that are more or less fanatics.

Regarding your last point, they have not encountred a tribe yet per se, but will be encountering edo period influenced orcs in a session or two.

Don’t worry about late-ness, it is a work in progress.


@ Olaus Petrus

The thing with hero points is that other players in the group do need them, and I am never going to single anyone out by not giving them to someone because they are too powerful.

That said, I am throwing a small army at them next game.

Hiding enemies is something I will go with. Maybe Broo…

I agree with you on teamwork. I think next game I will set up a board and miniatures and do a big combat.


@ alex_greene

Funny that, ha. At the end of the day, people play what they want to play. I ran a net runner character in a cyberpunk campaign a few years ago, and I had to keep leveling him up for combat because the NPC opponents were too good, and I could not play the hang back support character I wanted. It’s a bit murky with NPCs focused for set roles, other skills being neglected, and GMs and combats; a bit of a vicious circle in some ways.

The Saurian queen in your other post sounds interesting…

@ lemnoc

That has happened as well, and that complaint came from the tied second most powerful character in group. The high dex character (aka the tank) is not a team player, nor a j-ass, more he does not think and is gung ho. I might give some PCs a magic item increasing their SA, or gift them with spells that do the same.

‘Pacing challenge’ – I like that.


@ DamonJynx

This thread has been great. Depending on your character build, level, and adversaries, combat can be insanely dangerous. I agree no more than 3 is a good idea. Sometimes it can be hard exiting D&D mode and doing RQ/Legend. I like the sound of that thief character.


@ alex_greene (last post)

I am trying not to nerf him, nor sideline him. I am coming up with ways to balance him without adversely affecting the character sheet info or punishing/penalising. Balance, as you say.

The last game I ran had no combats, and everyone had a ‘chance to shine’ and had things to do in the city they are based in, as well as their own tailored encounters while they were about their business.

Still, deliberately crafting a scenario around one player every now and then sounds like it could be good fun. Not only does one player get more attention, the others need not be put into the sidelines; their role merely changes and they are subjected to new experiences and have to find new ways to fit into the group dynamic and utilize other skills for alternative situations. You bring up a very enlightening point, thank you 

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Re: Over powered character in group

Postby Mage » Sat Sep 15, 2012 12:21 am

Anyhow people, I ran my latest session last Thursday. There were no combats in the game, and it was mainly a game heavy chararacter-playing. The PCs had errands and other bits and pieces to do in the city.

The group is: a Goblin Sorcerer and fervent worshipper of the great frog god and onion enthusiast, a Halfling mechanic/rogue who has control over a stone golem, a human knight and worshipper of the compassionate water goddess of my setting (goodie two shoes knight), the tank – a human knight and worshipper of the harsh and sometimes brutal sun god (templar knight), and a wood elf warrior who is prone to bad luck and bad decision making.

The game went well. Everyone was given a small side quest and I was happy how it was paced, and it ran smoothly. Though there was side quests, role-playing, character interaction, fun moments and such, the most important thing was that I set up the next few games with seeds: rumours, a mission statement from their Lord, and a few other bits and pieces in their ‘random’ encounters in the city.

Regarding the tank player, again, I foreshadowed and seeded plots in this session to balance the game down the line. First off, he was brought to the attention of the cult master on this continent (he and the party fled from another one) asking why he did not report in, to reswear his loyalty, and to do the Rune priests bidding when commanded to do so. Then, the rune priest ordered him to take on an apprentice, a sixteen year old boy who is now his ‘padawan’, lol. He bought the kid (who is obedient and very impressionable) some equipment and is trying to steer him along a correct path, but is very authoritative with him (in a good way though, it has created some fun role playing moments). On the flip side, the kid has some very powerful dormant abilities that won’t manifest for some time, so everything will have consequences.

He (the tank) also had an encounter with a homeless person whom he was a jerk to who turned out to be his god in disguise. That freaked him out a little, as well as the apprentice, and another PC who was nearby. I took the players into another room to describe what happened, and came back in immediately afterward. The other two players stayed in there by themselves for like 5 minutes discussing things together, which was cool.

Later, the tank was on watch at the camp fire half way to the next city they were sent to by their Lord. He went to do his business, and noticed his sword was missing. He went back to the camp fire to see an old man, garbed in black, sitting and staring into the flame. When he addressed the old man, he stood up and turned around. From his neck hung the sword hilt on a chain, and the tank went to attack. The old man disappeared into a puff of black smoke, the sword remaining where he was spiked into the ground. As per an earlier post, the sword is becoming cursed.

Did I overdo it? Maybe a little, but I did not penalise or nerf, I did not sideline, and I set up a lot of interesting things for scenarios and situations ing in the future. While a lot of stuff happened to this PC, the other players had stuff going on too. It was a fun session.

In the next session, I am throwing a large combat at them: a group of frenzied barbarians led by a powerful knight of the god of war and fire, who will challenge the tank one-on-one just to change the pace of the combats, keep him busy and stop him killing everyone else so the other PCs may shine a bit more.
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Re: Over powered character in group

Postby DamonJynx » Sat Sep 15, 2012 7:18 am

Sounds like it was a good session. Kudos to you. And I don't think you over did it at all.
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Re: Over powered character in group

Postby Olaus Petrus » Sat Sep 15, 2012 10:48 am

Mage wrote:The thing with hero points is that other players in the group do need them, and I am never going to single anyone out by not giving them to someone because they are too powerful.

That said, I am throwing a small army at them next game.

Hiding enemies is something I will go with. Maybe Broo…

I agree with you on teamwork. I think next game I will set up a board and miniatures and do a big combat.
I'm not saying that you should punish a single player by not giving him hero points. My point is that while players should have some hero points, so that first bad die roll won't kill them, they should have only moderate amount of hero points, so it really counts where you use them and they have to play carefully without taking stupid risks in battle. It's my opinion that players should only rarely have a great number of hero points and saving the required amount needed for buying a heroic ability should be really difficult (I'm not big fan of heroic abilities and while I allow them, it's extremely difficult to even earn the right to buy one in my campaign).

Also sometimes it's possible to award extra hero point to people who do something extraordinary during the game. Personally I don't usually give awards for doing well in battle. Instead recently I rewarded players for finding peaceful solutions to their problems. Instead of fighting with the baddies they managed to find out what the baddies wanted and made a deal which benefited both parties. Their roleplaying and solutions were innovative and advanced campaign more than killing everyone would have done.

Another thing which came to my mind is the battle field. You can make enemies come from several directions so that the tank player can't be fighting everywhere (he has limited movement after all) and other players have their opportunity shine also. If tank player is focused on melee and other players are good at bows and slings then it's also possible to have long distance battles with enemy bowmen.

But as long as you give other players their spotlight moments it shouldn't be too unbalancing to have a tank in the party. Personally I like to give players plenty of opportunities to do stuff they're good at, for example I have given sailor character chances to use his boating and shiphandling. Thief has had opportunities to sneak in the dark, pick locks and climb over walls etc. Player should never feel that his character is unnecessary in the party and his special skills aren't needed. While their skills may not be needed in every adventure, they should get focus in some adventures.

And I don't think that you overdid in your last session. Your setting seems to be one where supernatural things are constantly present and in such setting it's all right to have encounters with gods and cursed swords.
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Re: Over powered character in group

Postby Mage » Mon Sep 17, 2012 7:30 am

Thanks for all the feedback gentlemen, I appreciate your input and moral support.

@ Damon_jynx

Thanks dude.


@ Olaus Petrus

I have taken on board everything you said in the above post and will be doing something with that in mind. And yes, there is quite a lot of magic and supernatural present in my world. Not as much as say, Glorantha, but more in keeping with something like Elric or the Eternal Champion, and nowhere near as little as Game of Thrones.
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Re: Over powered character in group

Postby Mixster » Mon Sep 17, 2012 8:17 am

It has almost already been said by others, but as I tried to point out with my question:

The reason somebody who's good at combat seems really overpowered, might be because combat happens a lot. The solution might not be to hurt the character particularly out of combat.

If combat happens less often, he will probably seem less overpowered.
On the other hand, if combat is crucial to your group, you could always try to make it happen less on his terms. If he's a footslogger with a greatsword, he'll have troubles against multiple enemies (as he probably doesn't have more than 3 CA), ranged enemies (against whom he can only evade), enemies that's gotten too much movement for him (such as mounted enemies or such), or enemies with a good evade skill/large shields to block his attacks (again because of a lower CA count).

The question is whether the rest of the group would have the means to compete with such an attack, so it doesn't just screw them over, which I can't say for sure.
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Re: Over powered character in group

Postby Mage » Mon Sep 17, 2012 8:28 am

You make very interesting points. A combat that is too tough would and could be harmful to the rest of the group. I think by using miniatures and having the NPCs attacking be more co ordinated and savvy with tactics might help with it, such as one person being outnumbered (the sword user).

The character in question, the tank, is a knight and of nobility. The idea in the next game is to throw a combat at them but have a powerful leader who challenges him one on one. I am hoping he takes the bait to be honest, but he might not necessarily. Then again, if he does not, and the 'boss' goes after someone else, and puts them on the ropes, he might intervene.
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Re: Over powered character in group

Postby Prime_Evil » Mon Sep 17, 2012 10:39 am

Mixster wrote:It has almost already been said by others, but as I tried to point out with my question:

The reason somebody who's good at combat seems really overpowered, might be because combat happens a lot. The solution might not be to hurt the character particularly out of combat.

If combat happens less often, he will probably seem less overpowered.
Speaking personally, I favour making exploration - rather than combat - the focus of my adventures. I tend to like action-oriented adventures with an old-school swords and sorcery feel. To make this work in this game system, I can't just through an endless series of combat opponents against the characters. The combat system in Legend is far to deadly to take this approach!

I like adventures that take characters into an archetypal "place of mystery" - whether this is a ruined city, an abandoned temple complex, or a traditional dungeon setting. For me, the mythic resonances of such locations is one of the most appealing things about fantasy roleplaying games. In all cases, I design the place of mystery as a 'mini-sandbox' containing a series of challenges that test a variety of skills - maybe there's a shaft that they need to climb down, an inscription they need to decipher, or a trap they need to locate and disarm. I also try to use a wide variety of non-combat hazards, such as giant fungi with poisonous spores, pools of acid, and the like. And I always make sure that there are multiple paths through the sandbox with none clearly preferred over any of the others. I try to avoid situations where the PCs face a sequence of fights leading up to a final confrontation with the big bad in the final room. I try to make the experience of exploring the environment at least as interesting as the bits of combat that do occur. And this means that I put as much effort into designing interesting places containing skill challenges as I do into designing the combat encounters

As a rule of thumb, only about one in four areas will include a potential combat opponent and roughly half of these offer a way to avoid confrontation - whether by stealth, guile, or some other method. There are many ways to achieve this - and some of them seem to be rarely used these days. Sometimes I provide options for clever adventurers to disguise themselves or impersonate visiting dignitaries. And other times I divide the current occupants of the place into mutually hostile factions and give the characters a chance to play them off against each other with some smart roleplaying.

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