Not really sure what to do about this situation. I have a group that meets monthly. We do a lot of roleplay, but a few of my players are very into being OP at combat. They want to build their characters the strongest and the best. So I alternatively get requests to both break rules and strictly apply rules so they’ll get advantages. They’ve also said they want deadly combat.

Not really sure how to handle this since their requests swing back and forth between RAW and not RAW. I’m finding myself saying “I want to follow RAW here” one day and then “I don’t want to follow RAW that closely” the other day. They are in many ways kind of ruining combat for themselves as we aren’t a wargaming table. We also have so little playtime I can’t devote an hour or more getting into wargaming combat with them. It wouldn’t be fun for a few of the other players (or for me) to devote our sessions almost entirely to combat and we usually have a few combats to get through.

As DM I feel pressured to be the cool DM and meet their expectations, but I’m also getting frustrated by the constant asks that boil down to wanting to be the most OP. I get the want, but it’s getting to the point where we are having a running issue where the OP players don’t want other players to do things for RP reasons and I haven’t figured how to have this talk to halt the OP train here. The OP players basically want to enter combat, always hit with their attacks, have the max possible attacks and crits, never get hit back, just have the enemy stand there and take damage. Which is obviously a problem as that’s terrible and boring combat.

The players in question are great people. They do roleplay, assist other players and contribute OOC. They do also agree it’s my decision to run the game how I want. I’m just not sure how to express to them they need to slow their roll in trying to be a level 20 god at level 3.

  • @TacticsConsort
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    74 months ago

    https://docs.google.com/document/d/15je74qMiYxSEnF43zp2UkEoSk3LqRymMbxruPVGQ-i4/edit

    Okay, first and foremost, it’s about managing expectations. You’re putting yourself in a situation where you CANNOT succeed because you’re allowing them to create expectations that are 100% impossible to fulfil- even if you were a perfect DM, if the players want more than perfection, well…

    What you need to do is sit down and create a hard list of rules that your players approve of. It’s actually fine to ignore RAW in favour of RAI, but consistency is an important part of the game. Decide what houserules you’re using, and write them down. Stick them to your DM screen.

    Now, secondly, if your players want combat, take a look at that google document I’ve linked. It has over 400 magic items that I’ve made, they’re mostly well balanced, and a lot of them are combat oriented. Give your players a selection of items, remind them that they only have three attunement slots, and let the items allow them to create strong but varied builds.

    Thirdly, if your players want to steamroll stuff, then I have another thing for you- your encounter pacing. DnD is designed around having seven encounters per Long Rest, although not every encounter is meant to be combat (I use 3 combat, 2 traps, 2 RP situations). To satisfy your players more broadly, then use early encounters to fulfil their desire to steamroll some mooks and drain their resources, and then for later encounters, chuck a boss at them, and make that boss charismatic and really good at hitting people with area attacks and repositioning (give him an ability to cleave with his sword if he’s not a mage!)- there’s your deadly battle.

    But more than anything, just manage expectations. Tell them that you’ll do your best to give them some battles that let them show off their power, and some more challenging fights that will test their builds and their characters.

    It’s also just important to remember- the challenge of a DnD fight is in puzzle and strategy. The thrill of a fight is in storytelling and description. If they just want thrilling fights, then honestly? Just don’t even track the HP of the boss (do not tell them this under any circumstances or the illusion will be ruined), just keep them standing and throwing out flashy attacks, taking hits and threatening to take the party down, and let them fall when one of the players lands a suitably dramatic attack. Oh and also if the boss is gonna drop any magic items, make sure the boss uses those magic items. Literally no better advertisement for an item than it being used to kick the party’s ass

    • @[email protected]OP
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      34 months ago

      Thanks! For the doc and the encounter building, but also about the expectations. I’ve been getting badgered so much (like, solid month when I said no to something) about “what about if I did it this way” “you have to allow it if I do it this way!” “It would be so great if I could just be this OP!” it has really worn me down and made me feel like the asshole draconian DM for saying no. So that’s a really good point. I did give in and it’s still not enough. So I think that’s definitely where I need to launch this talk from. Measuring their expectations to mine and enjoying a measured game.

      Far as encounter building I’m definitely having difficulty because our sessions aren’t that long so we can fit four combats max. There’s rp challenges in there too, but most of the players are around to roleplay so that’s what we mostly end up doing. One player has said (when it was mentioned the OPs want deadly combat) they would absolutely hate that kind of session which tracks since they’re really into roleplay. I think making the first encounter or two mooks and then having the rest be glass cannon bosses would probably be best. I was just worried because the rest of the party isn’t built to be OP so I’d be focusing most attacks on the OP players and I don’t want the rest to feel left out.

      • @TacticsConsort
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        34 months ago

        Yeah, it’s a really weird paradoxical thing, but giving in is exactly why it wasn’t enough- it made them feel that there was more they could be getting.

        Oh, and I know EXACTLY the trick you need for that sort of combat thing. Your players are getting too many Long Rests, right? One at the end of every session? At the end of every ingame day? Which makes it impossible to wear your players down, right?

        What you need are Rough Resting rules. Your players can sleep overnight when they’re travelling through somewhere, but as they’re sleeping somewhere dangerous, then they can’t fully relax and recuperate- sleeping overnight outside somewhere like a dedicated inn or their own homes only gives them the benefits of a Short Rest (and prevents the Exhaustion from staying awake for too long). This means you don’t need to cram a ton of fights into one session, because now your players will actually get worn down meaningfully between fights- and you can choose to not give them a full heal until they actually need one- a boss is a LOT more threatening if the party doesn’t have all their resources to nuke them on turn 1.

        • @[email protected]OP
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          14 months ago

          Yeah I think that’s it exactly re: more. As DM I’m like okay it’s one thing enough. I didn’t see the laundry list behind.

          And thanks! That’s a good idea, see where it gets us.

        • @[email protected]
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          04 months ago

          If it’s assumed that days end at the end of a session, I think that assumption itself needs to be examined.

          Each round of combat is, what? 6 seconds? 5? And how long are combat encounters lasting? 5 rounds?

          The average battle lasts 20 - 60 seconds in world, but can take as many minutes at the table. So, if you spent the entire session in combat, you’re looking at 3 - 5 minutes out of the characters’ day.

          Unless there’s an in-game reason for it, days don’t need to end at session end, and should carry over.

          Rough resting is a good system, but it’s nice letting casters get their spells back while you’re roughing it. And if game days stretch across multiple seasons, there isn’t as strong a need to penalize the casters. A compromise here may be Pathfinder 2 style “rests”, where players get their daily abilities refreshed, but they don’t regain more than a handful of hit points.

          Force them to use those lower level spell slots on heals between combats, or eat up potions.