Episode #125 of the Stack Overflow podcast is here. We talk Tilde Club and mechanical keyboards. Listen now
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Give him exactly what he wants.

Give him exactly what he wants.

I know, I know, but please, hear me out.

So, you've read all of the books you could possibly get your hands on and have acquired hundreds of years worth of knowledge? Excellent.

Using your example of the ship, a suggested DM response:

DM response: "You have read (roll D100)...... 65 books on sailing. 23 of them directly contradict each other, 27 of them are on various different ships, 4 of them are about space ships, and the rest are Titanic rip offs. You have read (roll D100)...... 65 books on sailing. 23 of them directly contradict each other, 27 of them are on various different ships, 4 of them are about space ships, and the rest are Titanic rip offs.

You recognize that to properly man a ship of this size you need an experienced crew with a lot of hands on experience, otherwise you're going to have problems with navigation charts, underwater reefs, rocks, and currents. Your knowledge of how hard this is tells you that attempting to crew a ship of this size with no experience will likely get you all killed." You recognize that to properly man a ship of this size you need an experienced crew with a lot of hands on experience, otherwise you're going to have problems with navigation charts, underwater reefs, rocks, and currents. Your knowledge of how hard this is tells you that attempting to crew a ship of this size with no experience will likely get you all killed.

If he chooses to argue with this, understand that you've acknowledged his background and paid tribute to it, while giving him a very logical and sound reason that comes FROM his background as to why this isn't reasonable.

This will make the character feel useful, while simultaneously undercutting the seemingly overpowered nature of this particular back story.

Here's an example of how to fix him trying to steal another player's thunder:

Rogue: I can pick that lo......

Book smart player: I've read up on these locks, so I can handle them easily!

DM: Yes, you have read up on them, and your knowledge of these locks is such that it takes a practiced hand and years of experience in dexterously handling lockpicking tools in order to successfully avoid the lock breaker mechanism. One error could spell disaster for an amateur lockpick by permanently locking the door. Do you still want to try your hand at lockpicking without skill in thieves tools?

Knowledge is a good thing to have, and a walking encyclopedia is a fantastic asset. But if he thinks knowledge replaces experience and training, he's grossly mistaken and needs an adjustment to his thinking.

As for the arguments on learning things faster: He actually has a point. If all he does is spend his time studying new spells, I would argue that it's logical he could learn a new one outside of levels as part of his studies. This would be strictly home brew, but creating a success chart and having him use gold for experimentation would be a great way to encourage his job as a spell crafter. It could even add story hooks to your game when he accidentally triggers a spell that has extremely unintended consequences.

If you do choose to implement this, don't forget to add in a random factor for information his character just plain forgot. Nobody remembers everything they read perfectly. So have him roll a D20 (or whatever you choose) and on a low roll (1-5 on D20, a 1-2 on D6, etc), have him be unable to recall any specific helpful details.

Give him exactly what he wants.

I know, I know, but please, hear me out.

So, you've read all of the books you could possibly get your hands on and have acquired hundreds of years worth of knowledge? Excellent.

Using your example of the ship:

DM response: "You have read (roll D100)...... 65 books on sailing. 23 of them directly contradict each other, 27 of them are on various different ships, 4 of them are about space ships, and the rest are Titanic rip offs.

You recognize that to properly man a ship of this size you need an experienced crew with a lot of hands on experience, otherwise you're going to have problems with navigation charts, underwater reefs, rocks, and currents. Your knowledge of how hard this is tells you that attempting to crew a ship of this size with no experience will likely get you all killed."

If he chooses to argue with this, understand that you've acknowledged his background and paid tribute to it, while giving him a very logical and sound reason that comes FROM his background as to why this isn't reasonable.

This will make the character feel useful, while simultaneously undercutting the seemingly overpowered nature of this particular back story.

Here's an example of how to fix him trying to steal another player's thunder:

Rogue: I can pick that lo......

Book smart player: I've read up on these locks, so I can handle them easily!

DM: Yes, you have read up on them, and your knowledge of these locks is such that it takes a practiced hand and years of experience in dexterously handling lockpicking tools in order to successfully avoid the lock breaker mechanism. One error could spell disaster for an amateur lockpick by permanently locking the door. Do you still want to try your hand at lockpicking without skill in thieves tools?

Knowledge is a good thing to have, and a walking encyclopedia is a fantastic asset. But if he thinks knowledge replaces experience and training, he's grossly mistaken and needs an adjustment to his thinking.

As for the arguments on learning things faster: He actually has a point. If all he does is spend his time studying new spells, I would argue that it's logical he could learn a new one outside of levels as part of his studies. This would be strictly home brew, but creating a success chart and having him use gold for experimentation would be a great way to encourage his job as a spell crafter. It could even add story hooks to your game when he accidentally triggers a spell that has extremely unintended consequences.

If you do choose to implement this, don't forget to add in a random factor for information his character just plain forgot. Nobody remembers everything they read perfectly. So have him roll a D20 (or whatever you choose) and on a low roll (1-5 on D20, a 1-2 on D6, etc), have him be unable to recall any specific helpful details.

Give him exactly what he wants.

I know, I know, but please, hear me out.

So, you've read all of the books you could possibly get your hands on and have acquired hundreds of years worth of knowledge? Excellent.

Using your example of the ship, a suggested DM response:

You have read (roll D100)...... 65 books on sailing. 23 of them directly contradict each other, 27 of them are on various different ships, 4 of them are about space ships, and the rest are Titanic rip offs.

You recognize that to properly man a ship of this size you need an experienced crew with a lot of hands on experience, otherwise you're going to have problems with navigation charts, underwater reefs, rocks, and currents. Your knowledge of how hard this is tells you that attempting to crew a ship of this size with no experience will likely get you all killed.

If he chooses to argue with this, understand that you've acknowledged his background and paid tribute to it, while giving him a very logical and sound reason that comes FROM his background as to why this isn't reasonable.

This will make the character feel useful, while simultaneously undercutting the seemingly overpowered nature of this particular back story.

Here's an example of how to fix him trying to steal another player's thunder:

Rogue: I can pick that lo......

Book smart player: I've read up on these locks, so I can handle them easily!

DM: Yes, you have read up on them, and your knowledge of these locks is such that it takes a practiced hand and years of experience in dexterously handling lockpicking tools in order to successfully avoid the lock breaker mechanism. One error could spell disaster for an amateur lockpick by permanently locking the door. Do you still want to try your hand at lockpicking without skill in thieves tools?

Knowledge is a good thing to have, and a walking encyclopedia is a fantastic asset. But if he thinks knowledge replaces experience and training, he's grossly mistaken and needs an adjustment to his thinking.

As for the arguments on learning things faster: He actually has a point. If all he does is spend his time studying new spells, I would argue that it's logical he could learn a new one outside of levels as part of his studies. This would be strictly home brew, but creating a success chart and having him use gold for experimentation would be a great way to encourage his job as a spell crafter. It could even add story hooks to your game when he accidentally triggers a spell that has extremely unintended consequences.

If you do choose to implement this, don't forget to add in a random factor for information his character just plain forgot. Nobody remembers everything they read perfectly. So have him roll a D20 (or whatever you choose) and on a low roll (1-5 on D20, a 1-2 on D6, etc), have him be unable to recall any specific helpful details.

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DM response: "You have read (roll D100)...... 65 books on sailing. 23 of them directly contradict each other, 27 of them are on various different ships, 4 of them are about space ships, and the rest are Titanic rip offs.

You recognize that to properly man a ship of this size you need an experienced crew with a lot of hands on experience, otherwise you're going to have problems with navigation charts, underwater reefs, rocks, and currents. Your knowledge of how hard this is tells you that attempting to crew a ship of this size with no experience will likely get you all killed."

DM response: "You have read (roll D100)...... 65 books on sailing. 23 of them directly contradict each other, 27 of them are on various different ships, 4 of them are about space ships, and the rest are Titanic rip offs.

You recognize that to properly man a ship of this size you need an experienced crew with a lot of hands on experience, otherwise you're going to have problems with navigation charts, underwater reefs, rocks, and currents. Your knowledge of how hard this is tells you that attempting to crew a ship of this size with no experience will likely get you all killed."

Rogue: I can pick that lo......

Book smart player: I've read up on these locks, so I can handle them easily!

DM: Yes, you have read up on them, and your knowledge of these locks is such that it takes a practiced hand and years of experience in dexterously handling lockpicking tools in order to successfully avoid the lock breaker mechanism. One error could spell disaster for an amateur lockpick by permanently locking the door. Do you still want to try your hand at lockpicking without skill in thieves tools?

Rogue: I can pick that lo......

Book smart player: I've read up on these locks, so I can handle them easily!

DM: Yes, you have read up on them, and your knowledge of these locks is such that it takes a practiced hand and years of experience in dexterously handling lockpicking tools in order to successfully avoid the lock breaker mechanism. One error could spell disaster for an amateur lockpick by permanently locking the door. Do you still want to try your hand at lockpicking without skill in thieves tools?

DM response: "You have read (roll D100)...... 65 books on sailing. 23 of them directly contradict each other, 27 of them are on various different ships, 4 of them are about space ships, and the rest are Titanic rip offs.

You recognize that to properly man a ship of this size you need an experienced crew with a lot of hands on experience, otherwise you're going to have problems with navigation charts, underwater reefs, rocks, and currents. Your knowledge of how hard this is tells you that attempting to crew a ship of this size with no experience will likely get you all killed."

Rogue: I can pick that lo......

Book smart player: I've read up on these locks, so I can handle them easily!

DM: Yes, you have read up on them, and your knowledge of these locks is such that it takes a practiced hand and years of experience in dexterously handling lockpicking tools in order to successfully avoid the lock breaker mechanism. One error could spell disaster for an amateur lockpick by permanently locking the door. Do you still want to try your hand at lockpicking without skill in thieves tools?

DM response: "You have read (roll D100)...... 65 books on sailing. 23 of them directly contradict each other, 27 of them are on various different ships, 4 of them are about space ships, and the rest are Titanic rip offs.

You recognize that to properly man a ship of this size you need an experienced crew with a lot of hands on experience, otherwise you're going to have problems with navigation charts, underwater reefs, rocks, and currents. Your knowledge of how hard this is tells you that attempting to crew a ship of this size with no experience will likely get you all killed."

Rogue: I can pick that lo......

Book smart player: I've read up on these locks, so I can handle them easily!

DM: Yes, you have read up on them, and your knowledge of these locks is such that it takes a practiced hand and years of experience in dexterously handling lockpicking tools in order to successfully avoid the lock breaker mechanism. One error could spell disaster for an amateur lockpick by permanently locking the door. Do you still want to try your hand at lockpicking without skill in thieves tools?

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Give him exactly what he wants.

I know, I know, but please, hear me out.

So, you've read all of the books you could possibly get your hands on and have acquired hundreds of years worth of knowledge? Excellent.

Using your example of the ship:

DM response: "You have read (roll D100)...... 65 books on sailing. 23 of them directly contradict each other, 27 of them are on various different ships, 4 of them are about space ships, and the rest are Titanic rip offs.

You recognize that to properly man a ship of this size you need an experienced crew with a lot of hands on experience, otherwise you're going to have problems with navigation charts, underwater reefs, rocks, and currents. Your knowledge of how hard this is tells you that attempting to crew a ship of this size with no experience will likely get you all killed."

If he chooses to argue with this, understand that you've acknowledged his background and paid tribute to it, while giving him a very logical and sound reason that comes FROM his background as to why this isn't reasonable.

This will make the character feel useful, while simultaneously undercutting the seemingly overpowered nature of this particular back story.

Here's an example of how to fix him trying to steal another player's thunder:

Rogue: I can pick that lo......

Book smart player: I've read up on these locks, so I can handle them easily!

DM: Yes, you have read up on them, and your knowledge of these locks is such that it takes a practiced hand and years of experience in dexterously handling lockpicking tools in order to successfully avoid the lock breaker mechanism. One error could spell disaster for an amateur lockpick by permanently locking the door. Do you still want to try your hand at lockpicking without skill in thieves tools?

Knowledge is a good thing to have, and a walking encyclopedia is a fantastic asset. But if he thinks knowledge replaces experience and training, he's grossly mistaken and needs an adjustment to his thinking.

As for the arguments on learning things faster: He actually has a point. If all he does is spend his time studying new spells, I would argue that it's logical he could learn a new one outside of levels as part of his studies. This would be strictly home brew, but creating a success chart and having him use gold for experimentation would be a great way to encourage his job as a spell crafter. It could even add story hooks to your game when he accidentally triggers a spell that has extremely unintended consequences.

If you do choose to implement this, don't forget to add in a random factor for information his character just plain forgot. Nobody remembers everything they read perfectly. So have him roll a D20 (or whatever you choose) and on a low roll (1-5 on D20, a 1-2 on D6, etc), have him be unable to recall any specific helpful details.