I just read How should I punish my player for getting himself killed? and a part stood out to me:

He certainly gives off the vibe that he's only playing along in the story so he can get to the next combat encounter, and absolutely wants to be the one dishing out the most damage- it's very important to him.


Now, I'm convinced he did this because: 1. We hadn't done a combat encounter in a long time since the last couple sessions were political debates to gain access to the lair they're heading to. [...]

Is there a name for this kind of player?

  • 3
    \$\begingroup\$ ♦ To make it less likely that our policy of respecting all play styles is violated, only answers that are 1) backed by a credible citation, 2) do not add any derogatory commentary of its own will be allowed to stand. I have removed unsubstantiated answers and answers derogatory of any play styles. Respectful handling and professionalism aren’t high bars to clear, and we expect that minimum effort. \$\endgroup\$ Jul 19 '18 at 18:17

Butt-kickers and Combat Monsters

Gaming giant Robin Laws in Robin's Laws of Good Game Mastering (2002) published by Steve Jackson Games for no system in particular names and describes this player type:

The Butt-Kicker wants to let off steam with a little old-fashioned vicarious mayhem. He picks a simple, combat-ready character, whether or not that is the best route to power and success in the system. After a long day in the office or classroom, he wants his character to clobber foes and once more prove his superiority over all who would challenge him. He may care enough about the rules to make his PC an optimal engine of destruction, or may be indifferent to them so long as he gets to hit things. He expects plenty of chances to engage in this aforementioned clobbering and superiority.… Butt Kickers [sic] seek the [emotional] flush of martial victory. (4–5)

Laws uses in Robin's Laws player categories that originated in Glen Blacow's article "Aspects of Adventure Gaming" from the long-defunct gaming magazine Different Worlds #10 (1980). That article is discussed, for example, here.

However, I was originally made aware of player types by another gaming giant Aaron Allston in his influential Strike Force (1988) published for Hero Games's Champions by way of Iron Crown Enterprises. Strike Force calls this kind of player the Combat Monster:

This player wants his character to fight, fight, fight. This doesn’t mean that the campaign must consist of only combat, but if every episode [session] doesn’t have some sort of battle, or if the character is prevented from participating in these conflicts, the player will not be happy. (220)

(I've used the 2016 revised edition of Strike Force for this quotation; my original is in storage.) Both terms seem acceptable and fairly nonjudgmental.


D&D 4th edition's Dungeon Master's Guide (p.9) calls this the Slayer:

D&D combat is thrilling. Few other aspects of the game put a character in such apparent jeopardy. Beating the bad guys is a clear success. Most players enjoy these D&D elements, but the slayer seeks them foremost.

  • \$\begingroup\$ Less denigratory than the lump I guess \$\endgroup\$
    – aloisdg
    Jul 18 '18 at 22:07
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    \$\begingroup\$ Well, yeah. Derogatory labels like "munchkin" and "the lump" are examples of the ugly fallout of the playstyle clashes we navigate. It's a combat game, and like some enjoy the roleplay and dislike combat, some will enjoy the combat and dislike too much roleplay. And then some crowds find it necessary to call other crowds insulting names and say they're categorically the problem with the hobby (see the "you don't want to be this guy" thing). Usually it's the people interested in the mechanics or the combat taking the brunt of the verbal abuse and being swept up in overbroad generalisations. \$\endgroup\$ Jul 18 '18 at 22:53

Firstly, this is a player who prefers a particular play style

he's only playing along in the story so he can get to the next combat encounter

Is there a name for this kind of player?

There is no need to generalize this situation by attaching a label "this kind of player". It is not about being a specific kind of player, it is about playing a specific play style.

There is a particular play style indeed when PCs goes from one combat encounter to another. It's called "Hack and Slash" in the Dungeon Master's Guide. See DMG page 34, "Play style":

Hack and Slash

This style of play is straightforward, fun, exciting, and action-oriented. The players spend relatively little time developing personas for their characters, roleplaying noncombat situations, or discussing anything other than the immediate dangers of the dungeon.

Character motivation need be no more developed than a desire to kill monsters and acquire treasure.

Other sources (Mattew Mercer from the Critical Role, for instance) calls it the "Diablo-style". It is perfectly fine playing like that so far as all the participants are having fun.

Another thing that is also fine and well-known in the TRPG world is:

absolutely wants to be the one dishing out the most damage

This aspect — crafting a game character to make them excel at one particular role (damage dealing, in this case) — is called :

Character optimization (aka CharOp, Char-Op) is the process of crafting a game character using the rules to make them excel at some given role.

A particular way of doing this is "min-maxing":

The practice of playing a role-playing game, wargame or video game with the intent of creating the "best" character by means of minimizing undesired or unimportant traits and maximizing desired ones. This is usually accomplished by improving one specific trait or ability

Such a player should be called "a player who currently prefers Hack and Slash play style" or "a combat-oriented min-maxer". If it causes troubles, this player is also "a player who is not on the same page with the rest of the group". The group itself could call him/her "a powergamer" (though powergaming not necessary assumes combat):

Powergaming (or power gaming) is a style of interacting with games or game-like systems, particularly video games, boardgames, and role-playing games, with the aim of maximizing progress towards a specific goal, to the exclusion of other considerations such as storytelling, atmosphere and camaraderie.

The "specific goal", in this case, is damage dealing.

If such a player comes into a group where some people (including the DM) do not enjoy this particular play style, him/her expectations will be failed. He will either adapt or leave the group, sooner or later.

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    \$\begingroup\$ I especially like how this points out that it's a question of expectation and fit, and doesn't disparage the playstyle with a derogatory label. \$\endgroup\$
    – T.J.L.
    Jul 19 '18 at 12:49
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    \$\begingroup\$ Min-maxer and powergamer are not appropriate here. You can min-max as a skill monkey or powergame as a diplomancer. The terms are not inherently about players who like combat. \$\endgroup\$
    – Richard
    Jul 20 '18 at 9:46
  • \$\begingroup\$ @Richard I agree. Added more details. \$\endgroup\$
    – enkryptor
    Jul 20 '18 at 14:44

Treantmonk, in one of his most famous guide, Treantmonk's Guide to Pathfinder Wizards: Being a God use this term for this kind of player: "The Lump"

The Lump ("The lump"): I can't think of another name for him. He's the character of the player that made his character specifically for combat, and is really uninterested whenever he's not rolling his attack rolls. He makes the best use of his time when not in combat by snoozing, or reading a novel, or making it very clear to the DM that he's bored. You DEFINITELY don't want to be this guy.

Keep in mind that Treantmonk wrote this guide like a roleplay of a special kind of wizard. This term exists, but be sure of its pejorative meaning.

Throughout this guide my tongue is planted squarely in my cheek, and yes, I can be a cheeky monkey. [...] This guide is written from the point of view of a wizard, but not just any wizard, a snobbish bookworm, 'I am the greatest' wizard."

  • \$\begingroup\$ Comments are not for extended discussion; this conversation has been moved to chat. \$\endgroup\$
    – mxyzplk
    Jul 20 '18 at 0:44

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