PDA

View Full Version : Breaking the game: should it be allowed?



Lea Plath
2012-04-12, 06:10 PM
One of my friends wants me to run a Shadowrun game, and he has made clear his intent to break the system by minmaxing as much as possible. He will end up with a pornomancer or a street sam who can punch people through buildings or something.

The other two players intresting are very diffrent sorts. One is a quiet RPer, who prefers to RP their way out of sitatuions where as the other is completetly new to the game.

So we have one guy who wants to minmax until the game breaks under the weight of his stats, one who wants to create a complex story for them to manuever in and one person who wants to try everything until he finds his niche.

Now, the second two I can do easily, but I feel, if I let the guy minmax, the other two will be overshadowed, not letting the world really feel that complex (after all, this guy can solve every problem ever) and not letting him feel the full range of the game.

So should I let this guy min max? What would you do to sort this?

shortbow
2012-04-12, 06:25 PM
At the gaming table, everyone's fun (including the DM) is equally important. I am of the mind that you can optimize a character AND roleplay your pants off, but that player should respect the limits you set and the scope and tone of the game you are able to run well.

That last part is important, as it lets that player know that you are not picking on him... you recognize his ability to optimize and know your limitations as a storyteller. He needs to keep it appropriate to the type of game everyone is going to enjoy.

It is no different than if I invite friends to play in a "murder mystery" or "high fantasy epic" or "Grim-Dark" setting. Ultimately it's a group game you are playing... it is the players, responsibility to make characters that will work in that game.

Terraoblivion
2012-04-12, 06:26 PM
Which is why you shouldn't let him. Any game needs at least some adjustment of expectations and cooperation in making characters who can conceivably fit together in the same story and he appears to be outvoted three to one here. Also breaking the system is named that for a reason, in many cases minmaxing too hard literally makes things not work properly causing headaches for everyone and ruining the experience.

Grod_The_Giant
2012-04-12, 06:29 PM
Optimizing isn't necessarily incompatible with roleplayng, and it doesn't preclude a good dame, but it's important that everyone has similar levels of optimization-- otherwise, people feel overshadowed, things meant to challenge some players either murder the others or feel like cakewalks, and everything breaks down.

The Glyphstone
2012-04-12, 06:30 PM
Plus, he appears to be perfectly willing to trample over the fun of the other two players in his rush to 'win' Shadowrun, so that's another reason why you shouldn't let him minmax. You might not want to let him play at all, depending on how obstinate he gets.

Wavelab
2012-04-12, 06:36 PM
It's all too common for me to see people who drop out of level 20+ games because the other players are optimized beyond them.

When I make a character I usually start him out with a basic structure and depending on the DM and the other players, I start optimizing.

I remember one epic gestalt game where I started out as a human sorcerer 30/Wizard 30 and ended up with Human Spellstitched Dry Lich Focused Specialist Necromancer(Planar Substitution) 10 Red Wizard 20 / Archivist 15 Walker in the Waste 10. Sadly the game ended before we could start.

But the point is all the other characters were on the same power level. I was running around with level 40 spell slots and they could hit a guy so hard in his spleen that it disintegrated.

Try to keep the power level balanced and everyone will have fun.

Oracle_Hunter
2012-04-12, 06:44 PM
One of my friends wants me to run a Shadowrun game, and he has made clear his intent to break the system by minmaxing as much as possible. He will end up with a pornomancer or a street sam who can punch people through buildings or something.

The other two players intresting are very diffrent sorts. One is a quiet RPer, who prefers to RP their way out of sitatuions where as the other is completetly new to the game.
So you have three Players:

(1) Powergamer
(2) Real Roleplayer
(3) n00b

and you want to make a game that suits all three.

Personally, I'd start by catering to the n00b -- tell the Powergamer to tone it down because you don't want to ruin the n00b's first time. If he won't take the gentle hint you can then either tell him he can keep his character in bounds (i.e. leave some spotlight for the n00b) or you'll boot him from the game. If he doesn't like it, tell him you'll run him a game when you're not training n00bs.

Hiro Protagonest
2012-04-12, 06:50 PM
Sounds like the player wants to play Shadowrun solely because he found a gamebreaking build for it.

Did he also want to play D&D 3.5 after finding out how you can achieve infinite power at level 1? Or would he want to play 3.5 if he found that out? I don't care if you have a small group, if he plays simply so he can laugh about how strong he is compared to you guys, kick him out.

Averis Vol
2012-04-12, 06:52 PM
No. It's unfair to the other two who also want to enjoy the game. On a different note I don't see how playing a character like this would be fun unless everyone was optimizing (or at all really).

cattoy
2012-04-12, 08:29 PM
run the game using a different game system.

Mark Hall
2012-04-12, 08:38 PM
Let him min/max... but ask him to do it in something that won't ruin everyone else's fun.

For example, challenge him to min/max a hacker... to be able to destroy pretty much any challenge you put his way with Data Search or similar actions, but not so everyone situation can be solved by a ginormous amount of firepower or whatever other way he's planning on breaking the game.

I would also suggest requiring him to give you access to his character beforehand... and learning his weaknesses.

And, if all else fails, pick up Paranormal Animals of North America, read the entry of the Juggernaut, and realize he probably shares some of the same weaknesses.

Greyfeld85
2012-04-12, 08:39 PM
A player can only break a game if the GM doesn't know how to create challenging encounters of appropriate optimization level.

With 3 players, I don't see a reason why this can't be an awesome 3-man-team campaign where each character has his/her own specialization. The one player seems to want to beat things in the face so let him optimize combat, then have the roleplayer optimize as a face character, and have the last guy play a skillmonkey/technomancer type character.

As long as you're able to properly juggle the spotlight between the three of them (giving them jobs where all of their skills are necessary at one point or another), it could be a blast of a high powered game.

onemorelurker
2012-04-12, 09:19 PM
Alternately, if your other two players are okay with it, have MinMax Guy help them build their characters, which will put all three characters on a roughly equal power level. This will, however, result in a pretty high-powered game, so don't do it if you're not super-comfortable with the system and/or prefer lower-op games.

AsDeR
2012-04-12, 09:22 PM
My point of view is:
1st, tell him to not force the spotlight onto him.
2nd, make a game where a good talker may need his help sometimes, the same way the powergamer may need the talker. (He could be taken to prison and face a death sentence, after he fails to escape and now he needs a good lawyer)
3rd, explain the noob that a RPG can be played in many different ways, and that the other players like to try new things too. So he doesn't freak out about the powergamer.
4th, if the powergamer is the real problem, make a nemesis of his player, also broken and minmaxed to death so you can control him by hitting him as hard as he can if things get out of control. (So you can destroy a building with a punch? I can too, and everyone will blame you for the damage because I'm the bad guy and I run away)

erikun
2012-04-12, 10:29 PM
I would recommend him not doing so. Even if he isn't stepping on toes, you'll likely end up with Mr. Diplomat, Mr. Scribe, and Mr. McMurderEntireContinents.

One nice thing about Shadowrun though (as opposed to D&D) is that there is more than one way to challange a party. Even if McStabbingDeathMinMax is in the party, there will be situations where his awesome ability to kill people won't be handy - stealthly moving around a building, or against knockout gas traps, or a half-dozen assault tanks.

Mind you though, it isn't an ideal solution, because anything that's a challange against the minmaxed character becomes pure murder against the other two party members. Ask him if he will tone it down - or even as Mark Hall mentioned, minmax something that the other two characters aren't likely to be involved with.

Jay R
2012-04-12, 11:41 PM
The introductory rules for my last Champions game included the following:

"I know most of the ways to try to build a character worth much more than the rules intend. If you come up with such a strategy, I will congratulate you on your cleverness and ruthlessly disallow it."

(This is a more-or-less paraphrase of something I read in some game rules somewhere.)

One player came up with an extremely clever way to design an ultra-powerful character. I congratulated him on his cleverness and ruthlessly disallowed it. (I think the congratulations are an important part of this.)

LikeAD6
2012-04-12, 11:45 PM
I would just not run a game for that guy if he is going to be a sock about it. If he wants a broken Shadowrun campaign, he can run it himself while you do whatever game you want.

Kol Korran
2012-04-13, 05:19 AM
in most system i would say to talk to the guy to tone down his power gaming, but this is Shadowrun- a game of a team of specialists.

in the shadowrun game i play we have 3 players- a hacker, a pyro mage, and myself (who is quite a noob at the system)- a weapon specialist.

the two others have vast experience, and the hacker is a min maxer to the extreme. but it's fine, why?

when the run requires hacking skills, the DM challanges him (though he too totally break the game) and he feels good about being powerful, succesful and so on.

when combat comes however, the challenges are set (or so i think) at my level, and the hacker usually hides somewhere (or tries to break into their weapons which no longer quite works).

you can adjust the game to everyone's level in their own areas of expertise.

But...
there is the matter of your role player, i'd suggest a talk with everyone to realize what everyone is expecting of the game, and to allow this for all people. who knows- the power gamer might like roleplaying as well.

and a note about minmaxing: shadow run isn't like D&D- specializing means you can do some things well, but only those things. give him a different situation, and the guy is borked. let him "win" then.

Golden Ladybug
2012-04-13, 07:53 AM
While my advice is not directly applicable to Shadowrun, I've found that it is generally a helpful thing to do in gaming. It has certainly increased the healthiness of my own group since we started doing it.

I'm normally the DM, and that's fine. Since we mostly play D&D 3.5 and Pathfinder, I am the most rules savvy person at the table most of the time, and along with being a good storyteller, I enjoy DMing. However, I like being a player as much as anyone, so every couple of months, we put whatever we're doing on hold, and either I run something complete different or someone else takes the helm.

This is when we put all our creative, silly and ridiculous ideas into action. We pull out our most Minmaxed, Powergamed and Ridiculous characters and we have fun together. Running a game with the Elven Domain Generalist, Nanobots and a Dvarti Ranger/Warblade Archer (who could put 2160 Arrows in the air a turn) was one of the most amazing experiences I've ever had, because even though it was over the top enough to put any given Exalted campaign to shame, we all knew that was what we were aiming for.

You play for the game you're in, not to the limits of your abilities. Talk to your Minmaxing player, ask them what they want to do. If they want to be Gerald McNukeThrower, when the other two want to be a doctor whose practice was shut down because he wouldn't pay protection money to the mob and a kid who left his family to strike out and gain recognition from his older brother, then maybe its not the time to play Gerald McNukeThrower.

But, that doesn't mean you need to shut that player down. Maybe try out running short, silly, ridiculous campaigns when everyone plays to the hilt? Maybe encourage that Player to use his system mastery to help the others get up to scratch, or the excel in an area where he doesn't detract from the fun of the other players. Hell, ask the other plays if they mind he's playing Gerald McNukeThrower; maybe they're happy for him to do that?

Above all, remember that everyone at the table deserves to have fun, and it is the job of everyone at the table to try and make sure that you're all having a good time :smallsmile:

Morghen
2012-04-13, 01:31 PM
Like somebody above said, give Mr. MinMax crazy combat challenges and have the other two be the support team keeping him from getting in over his head over whatever. Just make sure that MinMax knows he'd constantly be getting his hoop kicked in if the other two weren't covering him astrally/from the Matrix.

SowZ
2012-04-13, 01:46 PM
Optimizing isn't necessarily incompatible with roleplayng, and it doesn't preclude a good dame, but it's important that everyone has similar levels of optimization-- otherwise, people feel overshadowed, things meant to challenge some players either murder the others or feel like cakewalks, and everything breaks down.

Nothing ever precludes a good dame. Of course, I make it a point not to take cases from dames wearing red...

Anyway, min-maxing shouldn't actually allow him to solve every problem because, well, you are min-maxed. If you are super good at fighting, there are still a number of scenarios combat won't work, for example. So making a character who is super good at one thing isn't bad. But if he is finding loopholes or synergizing to a ridiculous degree, yeah, it is a problem. As others have said, he should understand everyones fun is equally important.

Hiro Protagonest
2012-04-13, 03:42 PM
Hm... is the player you're complaining about on these boards? Because another thread (http://www.giantitp.com/forums/showthread.php?t=239551) was created so someone could get advice on making his brute character really strong.

Fatebreaker
2012-04-13, 04:17 PM
On the one hand, no, you should never allow one player to break the fun of the rest of the table.

On the other hand, this is Shadowrun, and what "breaks" another game doesn't necessarily break Shadowrun. As Kol Korran, erikun, and others have pointed out, being able to kill stuff dead is only part of what makes a Shadowrunner successful. You can't punch the Matrix.

Here's a neat scenario you can keep in your back pocket to throw at a character whose sole occupation is violence and whose sole restraint is nonexistent:

Your contact wants to meet you at a high-end restaurant, whose on-site security is augmented by fast response times from Lone Star plus the personal security of the other high-end guests. Anyone who causes trouble will end up fighting half the room, plus the fast-response teams of Lone Star and half-a-dozen megacorporations looking to extract their personnel. Security feeds and media capture the runners images, which leads to...

...you've screwed up and screwed up bad. Someone, somewhere, is pissed at you, and now all your contacts won't answer your calls. Nasty folks with nasty toys are looking for you, and they're not interested in fighting fair. Some of them have guns. Some of them locked you out of your own house and put some major red flags on your SIN. People you talk to have a habit of vanishing. You can't even get a job, because every Johnson you thought you knew has disappeared, and no new ones are interested in a loose cannon like you. How long will you last without anyone to back you up and nowhere to call home? And even if you track down the guy with the grudge and the endless pockets of nuyen...

...how will you hurt a corporate suit who lives and works entirely inside a corporate arcology? His kids go to schools and his wife shops at stores which are located behind a fortress-worth of barriers and guards, and even when he leaves the arcology, it's on secure flights from the rooftop helipads to another rooftop helipad for a facility you can't get into either. Maybe you could get him while he's on vacation, but knocking over a big-boy playground is what got you into this in the first place!

Now, all of those are solvable... with characters who are well-rounded, operate as part of a team, and mind their manners. A face to talk their way through the first meeting, or to smooth ruffled feathers when your contacts get jumpy. A decker to track down the people hunting you or bust into "secure" corporate facilities. A drone rigger to assassinate that corporate suit while he's in his private helicopter. And if all else fails, a guy who knows a guy who has a friend who can give you a whole new face and a whole new reputation...

If you've got a player who insists on solving all problems one way, the good news is Shadowrun has many, many, many ways to hit back. A focused character can be a good part of a team. So long as your player is a team player, it doesn't matter whether his character is good at one thing or good at twenty. The success of the team and the fun of the players is what's important.

Mithric Gunn
2012-04-14, 12:15 AM
It's shadowrun. There are very few character builds without glaring weaknesses, and press hard enough at any weakness and character will die, munchkin or not. I've had Troll Adepts torn apart by heavy weapons, mages overpowered and shot down, etc. And you can always confront them with something their suite of tricks can't solve. Putting the Troll heavy weapons platform in a social situation where intimidate would get him killed is rather funny. And most munchkin builds require things that can screw a running party(trolls are big, heavy weapons are loud, magic tends to stick out like a sore thumb). Lonestar and similar corps know what they might be up against, and will have answers for dealing with big, scary runners that screw up the "shadow" part of shadowrunning.

That said, if your powergamer is planning on playing a possesion summoner, I'd suggest looking over his character very carefully. Thats a solid build, with access to spells, skills, and powers to solve a variety of problems. Combined with troll or shapeshifter(bear/tiger), you have a virtually unkillable mage who hits like a truck with access to a powers toolbox(and invulnerability to normal weapons). This is somewhat alleviated due to the loss of character control while possessed, until he gets access to metamagic.
Anything capable of killing him would probably decimate the whole party.
There is a similar troll mystic adept build, but its not as broken, as it has less damage potential.

Most builds in shadowrun can be "broken," but it is a lethal system, and there are some hard counters to most munchkin builds(any mage a can pick off even the most min-maxed stealthy type).
Keep in mind that unless your running a special campaign, shadowrunning is supposed to be stealthy, and a good run is one where you never have to shoot anything, or do any damage at all.

Jay R
2012-04-14, 08:20 AM
I think it's worth pointing out that he hasn't done anything wrong.

Some people are big talkers. "I'm going to create a character that will break your game" is talk. Until he tries to break the game, it's just bragging.

Our current DM likes to talk about how he's about to kill our characters, but he's really fairly benign DM. One of the players likes to talk about how vicious he is in real life, but he's really a big teddy bear.

Let the guy talk.

Mark Hall
2012-04-14, 09:34 AM
I would recommend him not doing so. Even if he isn't stepping on toes, you'll likely end up with Mr. Diplomat, Mr. Scribe, and Mr. McMurderEntireContinents.


Heh. Given this is Shadowrun, I have to giggle a little at "Mr. Scribe (http://shadowrun.wikia.com/wiki/Ehran_the_Scribe)" being thought weak...

brantaylor105
2012-04-14, 09:50 AM
I am personally of the school of thought that the more you min/max, the less mercy that I have on you. The noob and the RPer could get away with a lot of mistakes and still live through them. However, I would personally target the min/maxer with every bit of DM power I have. Think about it logically: the whole reason there is a slow and steady build-up in monster power over the course of a campaign is that the "big bad guy" sends more and more powerful underlings, you get into more and more serious situations, etc. So now if a bad guy hears about one man wasting his entire group he just sent out... what's to stop him from waltzing down there himself and killing him before he became too powerful? Or who's to say that some high-level magical beast isn't attracted to exceptionally powerful beings and eats him in the night? It's your world, you control it, and min/maxing should be allowed; it just has very dire consequences. Don't be afraid to kill him.

Explain this to him/her beforehand and maybe they will tone down the min/max idea. Otherwise, at least the noob gets to see a PC death early on.

Mark Hall
2012-04-14, 10:11 AM
Perhaps in some games, but remember that Shadowrun isn't necessarily like that. Sure, Big Bad (if he exists) might be Lofwyr... or it might be Damien Knight, an 80-year-old human whose military skills consist of "played paintball" and "can walk to the bathroom on his own thanks to Leonization treatments".

The big bad in Shadowrun doesn't necessarily keep power through being able to beat everyone up. He keeps power by having ridiculous amounts of money... enough to hire the biggest bad-ass.

Autolykos
2012-04-14, 12:10 PM
As long as he stays in his niche and just does his job well, let him. Shadowrun allows you to adjust challenges to each individual player (most of the time), and even gives you justification to. If the run involves breaking into high-level computer systems, Mr. Johnson will make sure he hires a red-hot decker; if their magic security is top-notch he will go for the best mage he can get, and so on.
If he stops playing the game, I suggest you follow Blackjack's advice (http://web.archive.org/web/20060619183321/http://blackjack.dumpshock.com/stuff/BITR1.htm). Hint: It involves cows at terminal velocity.
EDIT: In a later column, he also gives a little less moody advice (http://web.archive.org/web/20060619183526/http://blackjack.dumpshock.com/stuff/BITR6.htm). In fact, you should read all of it (http://web.archive.org/web/20070406081047/http://blackjack.dumpshock.com/ARCHIVE_adviceassistance.htm), he makes a lot of good points.

Lea Plath
2012-04-14, 12:43 PM
Thanks for the advice. I sat down with the players and we've decided to have them all minmax, to the degree the roleplayer lets them, and the builds are being done togther for power.

Thanks for the advice all!

TeChameleon
2012-04-14, 01:58 PM
Heh- nope, that was me asking for advice about the Troll Adept. I'm not in Lea/Trilby's game, and I already know that a pure combat monster is sub-optimal for Shadowrun, despite my noobishness. I just really wanted to try it, because it looked entertaining :smalltongue:

And congrats on resolving things, Lea- sounds like you've got a fun game ahead of you :smallcool:

comicshorse
2012-04-14, 02:18 PM
Perhaps in some games, but remember that Shadowrun isn't necessarily like that. Sure, Big Bad (if he exists) might be Lofwyr... or it might be Damien Knight, an 80-year-old human whose military skills consist of "played paintball" and "can walk to the bathroom on his own thanks to Leonization treatments".

The big bad in Shadowrun doesn't necessarily keep power through being able to beat everyone up. He keeps power by having ridiculous amounts of money... enough to hire the biggest bad-ass.

Exactly, he doesn't have to be 'the best there is at what he does', when he can deal with you by hiring the best and the second best and the third best to if you really annoy him

Jay R
2012-04-15, 08:39 AM
Thanks for the advice. I sat down with the players and we've decided to have them all minmax, to the degree the roleplayer lets them, and the builds are being done togther for power.

Thanks for the advice all!

I love it. In the words of Syndrome, "And when everyone's super (chuckle), no one will be."

Just don't forget that min-maxing now applies to your NPCs as well.

jackattack
2012-04-15, 04:43 PM
I'm surprised that more DMs don't simply draw a line in the sand on how many permanent and/or temporary enhancements to a particular stat and/or roll they will allow.

There are some drawbacks, but simply stating that players may only use the [pick a number] largest bonuses available can go a long way to preventing game-breaking builds without completely hamstringing optimizers.

Lea Plath
2012-04-16, 05:46 PM
Yeah, with this much power being thrown around, I had to do a serious rewrite.

They are now Shadowrunners who have one dragon annoyed at them and another who has them under him thumb through blackmail. This is while they have a job to kill a cyberzombie, who happens to be a mage-killer.

The party is a technomancer with stunted growth (the RPer), a shivan gunslinger (the minmaxer) and a wageslave turned street sam who uses a sword with a dragon tooth hilt, stolen from a dragon, and I've had to secret stat out with extra abilities to unlock when needed.

The first session was a blast, as I decided to avoid starting them off meeting a Johnson, instead threw them right into an escape (letting the minmaxer and newbie do their thing), then had them meet up with the Johnson for pay (with the RPer taking front), then recive another job off the back of that to hunt down this cyberzombie from another runner. Fun times.

Fatebreaker
2012-04-16, 05:49 PM
The first session was a blast, as I decided to avoid starting them off meeting a Johnson, instead threw them right into an escape (letting the minmaxer and newbie do their thing), then had them meet up with the Johnson for pay (with the RPer taking front), then recive another job off the back of that to hunt down this cyberzombie from another runner. Fun times.

High five! Good to hear it worked out and y'all are having fun with it.