One player in one of my groups always builds PCs that puts the rest of the party to shame. Even when the player tones down their PCs, their PCs are still considerably better than the rest of us. Their PC usually has the highest AC, the biggest attack bonus, deals the most damage, has the highest skill modifiers, or several of these at once.

The other players don't seem to mind as much as I do, but sometimes they and the GM get annoyed at just how superior the player's PCs are to the other PCs at the table.

The campaigns the GM runs are good, but I'm tired of my PCs seeming inferior next to that other player's super PCs.

(We have played in several games. The first game was mythic and it was level 11 and Tier 5. We never got further. Otherwise we have started from 1st level and gone up. Currently 8 is our highest level.)

I've already tried:

  • Talking to the player. I can't seem to get my point across.
  • Giving myself a break from the campaign by dropping out for a few weeks. When I returned, thing were unchanged.
  • Even just getting over it, putting it out of my mind and focusing on my own PC. That worked until some previously unrealized part of the player's super PC pushed my buttons again.
  • I have talked with the DM. He has also talked with the player (and table talk has suggested that some of the truly outrageous abilities are stricken even before it comes to the table).

    That’s part of the issue of how veratile the characters tend to be. Except for knowledges and languages, he tends to cover the rest of the important skills.

What can I do as a player to convince them that their super-powered PCs make the game a lot less fun for me without impacting their enjoyment of the game?

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    \$\begingroup\$ Does the superior player share his PC's build with the other players and the GM? If so, has the group audited the superior player's PC for accuracy? \$\endgroup\$ – Hey I Can Chan Aug 21 '18 at 16:05
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    \$\begingroup\$ @HeyICanChan He will answer when asked direct questions by players. I dont know how much and how freely he shares with the DM. Ive inquired many times into how he has obtained this or that and yes the numbers and methods add up but no complete character audit has been made to my knowledge. No, I dont believe he is cheating in anyway. \$\endgroup\$ – Fering Aug 21 '18 at 16:07
  • \$\begingroup\$ Facets of the same problem here rpg.stackexchange.com/questions/50059/… \$\endgroup\$ – thomax Aug 23 '18 at 9:26

11 Answers 11


Get them to help you build yours

You said that you don't want to play somebody else's character, but what if they helped you build yours? That way it's still your character but they've helped you optimise it. From your question it certainly seems this other player enjoys optimising characters for pathfinder, so perhaps they'd relish the opportunity.

  • \$\begingroup\$ A full optimize party can change some things for the DM. Be ready to see higher CR challenge than your level. \$\endgroup\$ – aloisdg moving to codidact.com Aug 21 '18 at 15:44
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    \$\begingroup\$ Suggested add-on thought: In addition, this allows a degree of party optimization, where the characters are not only individually awesome, but are built to be even more awesome together. That can be a lot of fun, and helps avoid some of the overshadowing problem. Do make sure, though, that the character is being optimized for a playstyle you'll have fun with. \$\endgroup\$ – Ben Barden Aug 21 '18 at 16:55
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    \$\begingroup\$ This was going to be my answer. \$\endgroup\$ – ShadoCat Aug 22 '18 at 0:27
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    \$\begingroup\$ Addendum to Ben's addendum: I was (a while back) in a campaign where everyone was new to the system but one player and the GM. That player helped us build an awesome party which both fit our desired backstories/personalities and rocked it on the battlefield. Heck of a lot of fun. Part of that was because we all had pretty specific roles. We worked well as a team because of our clear roles, and we were specialized enough in them to do a lot of work, with the rest of the party to make up for our individual deficiencies. \$\endgroup\$ – Fund Monica's Lawsuit Aug 22 '18 at 17:33
  • \$\begingroup\$ Not an answer to the question. \$\endgroup\$ – Mark Wells Aug 28 '18 at 1:32

Offer a challenge: Optimize a Low Tier class

I think Philip Kendall's solution is better, but here is a quick fix you can try.

If they like to optimize let them optimize with a caveat. Talk with them about the problem and propose for their next character to optimize a Trash Low Tier class. A vanilla chained monk for example.

If your build is good enough, it should be a bit more fun for all of you.

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    \$\begingroup\$ I really like this answer because it solves all the problems in one neat package, assuming the problem player agrees to it. It creates a novel problem to be solved, which should scratch their itch in regards to a challenge, while also allowing other people to shine. However, if this person is as good as OP says, he might still be able to bypass the others with a fifth-tier character. \$\endgroup\$ – Carduus Aug 21 '18 at 13:25
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    \$\begingroup\$ Now it all depends if the "super player" optimizes by himself, as a puzzle, or just uses resources to optimize his characters, at which point he may not see it as a challenge \$\endgroup\$ – Patrice Aug 21 '18 at 19:42
  • \$\begingroup\$ @Patrice: If the optimizer has been optimizing for a long time, they probably have build their own index of useful classes, feats, etc... and can, by themselves, still optimize considerably. \$\endgroup\$ – Matthieu M. Aug 22 '18 at 9:10
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    \$\begingroup\$ Having been That Guy in exactly this situation, this is my go-to strategy when playing with a low-power party. I'll pick an arbitrary restriction tied to the character concept and then build from there. (Currently, a sorcerer without a single damage-dealing spell) \$\endgroup\$ – ThunderGuppy Aug 22 '18 at 17:29
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    \$\begingroup\$ @ThunderGuppy: Yup. Another I've done is to make a character that revolves entirely around making other party members awesome. \$\endgroup\$ – Mooing Duck Aug 22 '18 at 21:54

The fundamental problem is that you're playing a different game from the other player. While you're both playing Pathfinder, you're not playing the same game of Pathfinder even though you're in the same room.

As you've discovered, if you hyper-optimise a Pathfinder character, you can make it do things which are orders of magnitude better than a not particularly optimised character - and in these days, there are large numbers of resources out there to help people hyper-optimise their characters, doubly so if you're playing D&D 3.5e or Pathfinder due to their popularity.

At this point, you're not enjoying the game so it's time to change it. If the rest of your group are happy with the situation, then perhaps it's time for you to accept that this isn't the group for you, however much you like the DM and find a new group. If the rest of your group aren't happy with the situation, then it's time to have a chat with the other player, make it clear that people aren't enjoying things and (if necessary) be prepared to pull the trigger and ask them to leave.

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    \$\begingroup\$ While this is a great answer, I don't think the player is in any real position to ask the other player to leave. This kind of thing is best picked up with the DM, who is in a position to determine where they want the story to go and how optimized they want the campaign to be. \$\endgroup\$ – Theik Aug 21 '18 at 8:52
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    \$\begingroup\$ If a group isn't enjoying a game, of course they're in a position to ask a player to leave. \$\endgroup\$ – Philip Kendall Aug 21 '18 at 8:58
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    \$\begingroup\$ @Theik Social Dynamics wise, it's better to address this as a group, rather than dump it all on the DM. PF is a game the group plays together. \$\endgroup\$ – KorvinStarmast Aug 21 '18 at 17:43
  • \$\begingroup\$ My point wasn't really that the group shouldn't decide, but it's something you should communicate with the DM beforehand. The answer kind of hints at some sort of "go around your DM with a player rebellion" kinda deal by talking to the player and asking them to leave, instead of including the other people (especially the DM) in the conversation. \$\endgroup\$ – Theik Aug 22 '18 at 8:41
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    \$\begingroup\$ @Theik Talking to the rest of the group is assumed to have happened for you to know "if the rest of your group aren't happy". \$\endgroup\$ – Philip Kendall Aug 22 '18 at 9:00

Restrict sourcebooks

I cannot guarantee you that this will solve the problem 100%, but it seems likely that they are picking the combinations that lead to these numbers from a large number of sourcebooks, while the others do not care to or cannot find the similar build options.

If they always make the best character available, close in the boundaries of the game so that it ends up at least comparable to what the others are creating. I recommend a whitelist of books that players are allowed to use or a restriction on the number of books (like the PHB+1 rule in DnD5-AL) for character creation.

If they also understand that others do not have fun, this should not bother them. They are still allowed to look for optimized solutions/builds. If my gut feeling is right, their aim is not astronomical bonuses, but using the tools the game gives them the best they can.

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    \$\begingroup\$ This is likely to moderate, but not solve the problem. \$\endgroup\$ – Ben Barden Aug 21 '18 at 16:56
  • \$\begingroup\$ The biggest game-breakers were in core 3.5, and were mostly imported to Pathfinder. Banning sourcebooks gets rid of exotic options, but doesn't do much to reign the power level in. \$\endgroup\$ – fectin - free Monica Aug 22 '18 at 19:53

While my answer is the same as Josh's - get them to help you build yours, I'd like to try and offer a bit of insight into why you've failed to get your point across.

You said she did tone it down, just not enough for you.

It's just that other player's mindset - she wouldn't feel right making an unoptimized character. While I'm not particulary good, I have a similar view - I can't just go and make a STR and DEX based wizard - I understand that he will be completely ineffective, to the point of unplayability. For your player, making a less optimized character will feel the same as that. Since she already understands what it takes to make a better character, making a worse one feels like a terrible idea to her. I'll provide an analogy. Do mind, it's not a perfect analogy since TRPG is not a competitive sport, but there's still an aspect of "I'd like to do better", at least for a lot of players. "Playing better" in the text below translates to "builds stronger character", instead of literaly "playing better" as a result.

Imagine that you're a football team. You're not really playing championships, you just do it for fun. And she is really athletic, and fast, and basically owns the field, thrashing your opponents. It might even be better for her to go to a more professional team, but maybe you're all good friends, and she just wants to spend time with you. So, you feel like she takes too much spotlight, and you ask her to tone it down, so the others would get to play the game too. And she listens! She starts running 15% slower, and she uses less tricks to fool the other team, and so on. However, she's playing better then you would like her to, her efforts didn't do anything for you. So you ask her again. But she can't! Toning it down even more for her would be playing on one leg, or while juggling.

Sure, it's a fun challenge, but your goal is still to win the game, even if it's a friendly one! She can't just go and tie her legs together - even if that will actually bring her to the level of other players, she can't handicap herself that much.


First of all, you and that other player have very different expectations on the game. You seem to be there for the fun of playing, maybe the role playing or whatever, but that other player is there mostly to win. Both objectives are completely valid, but they can contradict each other. Same as that other player takes the fun out of the game by playing the game too well (from a mechanics viewpoint), you might be ruining their game by not pulling your weight in the fight.

Reconciling such differing goals in the game might be quite hard.

After trying to fix the root problem (the differing expectations on the game), by talking to the other player, failed, there are a few other things you can do.

Adjust your own goals

If you try to help the other player accomplish their goals, maybe they would be more open to helping you accomplish yours. Ask the other player to help you optimise your character.

Get the GM onboard

As a player you are quite limited when it comes to changing the game itself. The GM on the other hand has a lot of power over the game. If the GM knows about the troubles, he might be able to give both of you the kind of experience you want.

If I were GMing your group and knew about the problems, I might design some parts of the game in a way that were not solvable by the OP character. So for example, I would make a few encounters that rely on knowledge or language skills. Also the GM can easily adjust the difficulty for each player individually by cheating. In my games I do roll dice for NPCs, but they are more an orientation than a strict value. I don't let the players see my dice or the NPC's stats. This helps to tone down an OP character or boost a very bad character.

Of course this should not be used excessively, because then it could ruin the game for the OP character's player, but a GM should always try to make the game entertaining for every player involved.


It's rather hard to ban, limit or prevent optimizing. Limiting sourcebooks might be one way to do it.

A question is begging to be asked, why that problematic player is min-maxing? (Let's be honest, he is, no matter what he says or thinks)

Some players just have to be the very best, like no one ever was. Because of insecurities, inferiority complex or whatever. Those rarely can be argued with, as far as my experience goes. You can either kick them out of your group, punish them hard enough for min-maxing and see them rage quit the group or slowly teach them that there's more to creating characters than optimizing.

Anyway, there's few things you can do:

  • Have your group meet over a beverage of their choice and have that player show off rest of you methods he's using to achieve such results. While I'd disagree that characters min-maxed to the max are "incredible" and rather judge them by their backstory and players' performance, creating good characters is also something you can improve in. Especially in D&D where badly leveled characters can end up being quite powerless and useless cannon fodder.

  • Suggest your DM to create sessions that rely on something more than just fighting and surviving encounters with monsters. There's a lot more to be enjoyed in roleplaying - intrigue, diplomancy, crazy experiments, searches for ancient and forbidden knowledge. Areas in which that player's characters might be lacking in skills.

  • Play a story where that player's character is only one able to fight properly and have rest of you create characters focused on something else. Have them hire that legendary swordfighter to escort them throughout the world in search of some special artifact. This way he can be the star of every fight, while rest of you will be important characters in other tasks.

  • Have your DM brutally exploit the fact that his characters are so powerful. Come to think of it, many troublemakers will want to duel this mysterious, undefeatable person - and might not care about rest of characters. "This is 'tween me and him, you chums stay outta it!" style.

Also, while this might not be an option, you can always switch to a different system.

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    \$\begingroup\$ Your last bullet point is counterproductive, in the context of the problem statement. (Thematically, it's not a bad idea; sort of like all those people wanting to duel the "fastest gun in the West"). All that does is increase the spotlight on the minmax player ... which seems to be the core problem \$\endgroup\$ – KorvinStarmast Aug 21 '18 at 17:46
  • \$\begingroup\$ As long as DM isn't throwing at that character enemies WAYYY OFF his league. While this is dirty playing, it'll make player's characters kinda short lived. \$\endgroup\$ – schroedingersKat Aug 22 '18 at 9:45
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    \$\begingroup\$ I'm missing something here - it seems that you consider min-maxing to be "bad play" or something like that. That's completely untrue - for some people, min-maxing is part of the fun of the game. Why couldn't they just like min-maxing, instead of trying to pin an inferiority complex on him or something ? Perhaps he even looks at the game, decides that the rest of the characters aren't strong enough to handle what the DM throws at them, and wants to compensate for that weakness. While probably not the right way to go about that, social explanations like these are more than possible. \$\endgroup\$ – Gloweye Aug 22 '18 at 10:24
  • \$\begingroup\$ Whoa, I never said that. I just learned hard way that some people just have to be that best character in the group and they can't be argued with. I've also had some friends enjoy min-maxing who did amazingly potent characters, mostly in Neuroshima and WFRP 2ed. Also, in D&D maybe not min-maxing but optimizing builds is a must. \$\endgroup\$ – schroedingersKat Aug 22 '18 at 10:43
  • \$\begingroup\$ But this is probably why I always disliked D&D and enjoyed systems like CoD. While not min-maxing-proof, it is more focused on narration. \$\endgroup\$ – schroedingersKat Aug 22 '18 at 10:44

Have someone else design their character

If they cant help themselves and you don't want them to help others make a party of all optimized characters, just offer to build a character for them. They can give input into what they want but if someone else designs it then it should be around the same power level as everyone else.

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    \$\begingroup\$ I would dislike that. At that point I will pick a pre-gen. \$\endgroup\$ – aloisdg moving to codidact.com Aug 22 '18 at 15:10
  • \$\begingroup\$ For clarification do you think I meant tell them a race/class and that's it? I was thinking you would tell them everything you wanted your character to be and let them try to make a character that fits what you want. That way you get to design your character and it shouldn't be overpowered because they wont know all the min/max strategies. I added this as an alternative answer for after the other options don't work. \$\endgroup\$ – Chris Aug 22 '18 at 20:31

Don't Hold Him Down, Boost Yourself UP

Frankly, I think you're taking the wrong approach. None of what you described in the original post (I couldn't respond at the time) was particularly overpowered- most of it was, IIRC, about average. In light of that, it's unfair to ask him to hold back because you can't keep up. You shouldn't be trying to go Harrison Bergeron on this guy, you should be asking "how can I improve and keep up with him?" And the answer to that question is much easier to give. Look up style and build guides. Find communities where players share advice- there's a Pathfinder_RPG subreddit and its associated Discord, where builds and advice are commonly discussed.


Find clever alternatives to battle. Maybe accidentally trip a wire, make the campaign fun for you. When I was a player character and had the same problem, I contacted the GM outside and asked if I could be the bad guys son. I worked with the Bad guy to hurt the parties progress. When I was done with that character, I shot the characters with a magic missile and disappear. The wanted to kill my character, but I denied them the battle. It infuriated the power player. That might have been the funnest session I'd ever played. I loved it.

I had a player character that had to be the best. He cheated and used material I said he couldn't use in a campaign. He ended up with a 30 AC at level 1. I looked over his character, and I told him he couldn't play it, it wouldn't make it any fun for anyone else. So to stop it I made a status quo campaign. That means that the world is set from the beginning. He went into a lair of 20 creatures, everyone else ran. He thought he was invincible to melee damage, but I rolled more natural 20's than I have ever seen. He died. He was so mad that his character died he never came back. Ultimately it is up to the GM to make sure that each character has a unique experience, and enjoys what their character brings to the table. If the character is strong against melee throw in mages. If they have low dexterity, make more traps. Make them travel to another plane, where that character is uncomfortable.

Find ways to make it fun for you. That is just life. We nerds are a weird people that don't always get or care that we piss people off. Hope this helps.


I once had a player who would abuse our the game and blatantly ignore some rules we set, making him OP, I dealt with it by making him get poisoned, reducing his stats and making him slightly worse then his friend. And I planned to make him find the poison if he ever accepted the rules as they were. I Know it is not the most honourable way of doing things but it works and keeps it fun for everyone. One way you could do this is by making each player push on a chest or object then roll a die. Then regardless of the result say it had poisoned the troublesome player.

I hope this helped, Lorian

  • \$\begingroup\$ This answer seems unlikely to solve the problem. The player in this case isn't cheating (so far as we know), and even if they were, zapping players with arbitrary penalties isn't something many tables will tolerate. \$\endgroup\$ – Mark Wells Oct 12 '18 at 19:29

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