47
\$\begingroup\$

I have a player who in the span of 3 sessions has gone through 5 characters (& made even more, some of which I told them not to play because the stats were too high), because they want "great" stats (as in at least 3x 16's or 2x 17+ stats, before racial bonuses) - this is causing some headaches for me as the DM due to several reasons:

  1. Balance - this player is already by far the most experienced of the group & is min-maxing all the characters
  2. Extra work for me - I need to read up on the class they just created (i.e. runeblade) in order to be familiar with the rules (otherwise they would exploit me not fully understanding the restrictions of their class)
  3. Story continuity - it's hard to keep incorporating different backgrounds / reasons for the character to appear there / etc. into the game

More background info:

I have tried talking to the player, specifically asking if they could be a level lower than the others (4 instead of 5 right now, I am not dealing with EXP but just leveling up the party when they achieve a milestone) but they want to be the "strongest" player, even though they could do that without the extra stats due to their knowledge

The others in the game like having this player with them, as they are experienced in DnD & greatly help the party overcome obstacles, but they also manage to "convince" the other players that they should be rewarded the most loot / best items, which is only aggravating the problem - I haven't decided to create items that are restricted to a specific player/class yet, but I am tempted to do so

So my question is how should I handle a player who keeps "suiciding" their character in order to get the stats they want?

I could kill their character even once they do get their "dream" stats, but this is already consuming a larger portion of time & effort than what I want to deal with, and I don't think it would change anything other than making the player upset with me.

Most related was this answer (which answers a different question); it confirms that this is an issue for others as well.

\$\endgroup\$
  • 4
    \$\begingroup\$ Somewhat related on unbalanced PCs due to rolled stats. \$\endgroup\$ – David Coffron Oct 1 '18 at 19:47
  • 4
    \$\begingroup\$ @Michael, you have some nice insights: but we try to never answer in the comments \$\endgroup\$ – Gandalfmeansme Oct 2 '18 at 13:05
  • 1
    \$\begingroup\$ Out of curiosity, when he rolls up characters, is it in front of you? Or does he do it on his own time and come to the table with a bunch of really great characters that nobody witnessed him making? \$\endgroup\$ – Paul Oct 4 '18 at 9:48
  • 1
    \$\begingroup\$ @Paul both, but I was able to say no to the ones I didn't witness \$\endgroup\$ – user2813274 Oct 4 '18 at 12:01
  • 1
    \$\begingroup\$ Do not answer in comments. Answers in comments are deleted without warning. \$\endgroup\$ – mxyzplk Oct 4 '18 at 21:21

12 Answers 12

88
\$\begingroup\$

Your player is trying to game you, the system and the other players at the table.

Simply put an end to that.

The issues with rolling stats is that you take on the risk of getting subpar ability scores with the desired reward of getting super awesome stats. Other issues are that players will feel the imbalance between them.

Yes, the first option for a DM to employ for generating ability scores is rolling. But the variant provided immediately thereafter is also enforceable. Session 0 should/would have resolved this entirely. As a DM I noticed large disparity in rolled stats for more than 3 decades. I finally had enough and everyone is on a level playing field now with point buy. There were some disagreements and concerns (because players like to roll dice) but no one is feeling outclassed now.

Another option that I have used for slightly higher powered campaigns is that each player rolls a set of 4d6 and the DM writes it down. If you have 6 players you are done, if not divide up the rest of the rolls till you get a total of six stats. Each player gets an array based on those stats. Everyone is even and everyone can place them where they please.

Other options a DM had us used and I have adopted it on occasion is. You roll 4d6 dropping the lowest as normal with the following exceptions:

  1. Reroll 1s
  2. If the sum of the highest 3 dice are 13 you add the fourth die (this could end up being as high as 17, with a 3 4s and a 5)
  3. If you roll 4 sixes instead of 18 (as it normally would be in the base system) it is instead a 19

This increases the overall average of starting stats so I only used it for exceptional campaigns. You can combine this with the previous method of a joint generated array and everyone is even.

Most importantly everyone uses the same system. No one should go off on their own with their own method of generation. That said story reasons could prompt a DM to adjust here and there.

This is a symptom

This could be a symptom of previous games/editions where optimal stats meant they were a whole lot higher than they are now in 5E. This was a hard paradigm for my table to break when we made the switch from 3.X/PF.

Bottom line is that you are the DM, therefore you decide which method to use, not the book and certainly not an individual player. Technically, you would be well within bounds of the rules to feed 4 dice to a dog and wait for them to pass to find out what stats your players would get (a bit extreme though). And especially if this is slowing play and causing issues with other players it needs to end immediately. Put your foot down at your next reiteration of Session 0.

\$\endgroup\$
  • \$\begingroup\$ To keep the fun of rolling stats, but making the table feel fair, I have everyone use the same rolled array, but they split out the rolls between them - i.e. 2 players, 3 each, 3 players 2 each. They can decide who throws any odd rolls left fafter. \$\endgroup\$ – Matt McF Oct 7 '18 at 16:52
  • \$\begingroup\$ There've been a number of "cooperative" rolling techniques I've seen employed. One was have everyone roll 6 times of 4d6 (drop lowest) as a spread, submit to the center of the table. Anyone can use any spread they like. One of the most interesting rolling systems I've seen was one done by a friend of mine. You get 20 d6s. You allocate these to your stats any way you like (min 2 dice). Roll, keep highest 4 (reroll if this gets you over 18). Had to have the creator of TRoll add features to support a statistical analysis of such a system. \$\endgroup\$ – Draco18s Oct 8 '18 at 2:40
3
\$\begingroup\$

So my question is how should I handle a player who keeps "suiciding" their character in order to get the stats they want?

2 of the 3 problems you had with this seems to be work-related. The basic problem here being that the player can whip up a new "toon" in an evening, while the job of learning how that character works and integrating it into the ongoing story takes you far more time.

That seems like such a legit concern, that I don't see a huge problem with applying the brakes a bit, on that basis. Tell the player the truth; that adding new characters to the story is far more work for you than merely rolling a new character is for them, and you are going to need at least an extra week to work out the story details. After that, the party has to get themselves to your insertion point, which may well be another week, depending on the choices they make.

Thus any new character will implicitly impose on the player a 1-session "death penalty" where the player will have to sit out. This is one week from when you receive the character info (you can't very well rewrite the story around a character you haven't seen).

If the player wants to work around this by notifying you a week in advance of their old character's impending death, that's actually a good thing. You can instead write it into the story (perhaps the character retires to run an inn), instead of having it end in an unrealistic fourth wall-breaking suicide. Perhaps you can even keep the old character yourself in your stable of recurring NPC's.

As for a new character class that you aren't familiar with, that would be another week on top of the first one so you'll have the free time to familiarize yourself with that class. If the player wants to use a class you are familiar with, they don't have to suffer that extra week. If they really do, then you need that time to learn the new class. Player's choice.

The point is to remove your main pain point in all this: the huge amount of work expected of you on a whim.

\$\endgroup\$
  • 1
    \$\begingroup\$ Nice answer addressing a core dm-player relationship issue. (And nice to see you drop by; taking a break from cat herding over at History.SE? grin.) \$\endgroup\$ – KorvinStarmast Oct 5 '18 at 19:16
  • \$\begingroup\$ @KorvinStarmast - I dabble. \$\endgroup\$ – T.E.D. Oct 5 '18 at 20:45
  • \$\begingroup\$ .... 3rd-wall? \$\endgroup\$ – vonBoomslang Oct 19 '18 at 12:12
  • 1
    \$\begingroup\$ @vonBoomslang - Sorry, I meant fourth wall. Damnit, even in RPG's I can't get away from making off-by-one errors! :-) \$\endgroup\$ – T.E.D. Oct 19 '18 at 12:35
1
\$\begingroup\$

I don't think it's right to "punish" players for having good stats by making the game extra hard for them. This takes away the fun having the good stats. What's the point of being stronger if everything else is heavier?

I find that these types of "suiciding" players are generally immature types, on saying that, it is often demoralising to find that you don't get to do anything in the game because there's always someone with a better stat/skill level than you to do it instead.

If a player wants to play a character who is a big strong guy, I say let him, that's the kind of character he wants to play.

However, I see the problem here where he wants all his stats to be higher than the others. You say you've talked to him, but maybe you need to just ask him what kind of character he wants to play. Have him create a character concept before the stats. If he wants to be the big strong bruiser, fine. But he needs to understand the idea of game balance - he can't just be good at everything. Have him come up with a little background, a description (both physical and personality wise).

When it comes to rolling stats, sorry I'm not too familiar with the 5e methods but surely the rules allow for re-rolls, point assignment, etc. ? Some of the other answers will help you out there. If not, I'm sure you can work out some sort of compromise (e.g. he can reassign a few points from Dex to Str if he likes)

During the game, encourage him to role-play in accordance with what he's come up with. Tailor the game a little so he gets to use his strengths (not just him, BTW, each of the players).

The idea here is that the work he puts into making and role-playing his character gets him to like the character, so he doesn't just suicide because he wants higher stats.

\$\endgroup\$
5
\$\begingroup\$

He is not an experienced player if he can't play with low stats.

In reading your description of this player it seems to me he wants to appear to be experienced but doesn't actually have the experience necessary to play a real character. He's using high stats to compensate for poor playing skills. Some of the best characters I have played or GMed are those that have one or more very low stats, or characters who have an array of mediocre stats. This creates a situation where the player needs to use their creativity and ingenuity to make up for low CON, STR, DEX or other important stat. By refusing to play characters with low/mediocre stats this player is limiting their own playing style and their fellow adventurers' playing style.

So what's happening? This player is hampering you and all the other players to make up for his inability (or fear) to play creatively. He's hogging the table, the story and the GM's time. Worst of all, he is teaching all the new players terrible playing etiquette AND they are learning to play by relying on one character. That is not what D&D is about. By all that is good in this, and all worlds, you must stop him! I agree with much of what has been said above, and particularly with the numerous statements that remind you that, as the DM, you are in charge. Addressing this kind of behavior openly and directly with the rest of the players present is excellent advice.

Ok, I'm putting a disclaimer of sorts on the remainder of this answer, due to very valid concerns in the comments:

  • The number one purpose of DnD is to enjoy the game in a socially healthy, positive environment, please keep this in mind if you choose to use these methods in your game. If they cause a player to feel negatively singled out, you're not doing them right. Proactively check in with your players individually (don't wait for them to come to you, and don't ask them "if they're cool with it" in front of everyone else).
  • These approaches do not work at every table.
  • The following in-game suggestions are not meant to be used in a vindictive or passive-aggressive way. That's just mean. Talk to your players about any concerns.
  • Every gaming group is different, and every DM, and every player is different. I occasionally use these types of approaches, and never many at once or in an overwhelming way. Only to subtly manage players and tweak group dynamics if necessary. I tend to play with people I know and there is a certain level of trust and comfort between myself, the DM, and the players.
  • These approaches would not work well at all in a group that doesn't know each other well. They can work well in a group where everyone knows each other and has good rapport.
  • Please be thoughtful in your approach to players as a DM. You have a lot of power and the players put a lot of trust in you. We're all here to enjoy ourselves, make friends and smash skulls (but not each others). Game on!

Some in game approaches to consider:

There are many ways to diminish the role of a player who relies on high stats and/or hogs the table:

  • Target 'em: If he is obviously the strongest character in the party the baddies are going to target him. Make him hurt. Not just hurt, though. His pockets will be picked, he will be cursed, he will be charmed, he will be made fun of, etc.
  • Curse 'em: A powerful entity in the game curses him. Give him a curse that reduces his primary stats and also keeps him from dying. For example, if he gets to 5 or less HP he is transported to another plane, or falls asleep, or turns to stone, until he recovers. The possibilities are endless. Example: A powerful Earth Elemental princess has fallen in love with him and cast this spell on him to protect him from harm. If he hits 5 or less HP he is turned to stone, safe and sound, until all danger has passed (he effectively can't die, and he is also out of the game for a while). He also goes -2 on two of his stats. Something that works with the Earth elemental curse is he would lose DEX and INT. Change it to a Water Elemental and he loses CON and STR. Have the entity come and take some of his treasure from him, because obviously it's a gift for her, otherwise why would he take so much. The possibilities are endless.
  • Vanish 'em: "How strange, Berron, you seem to have stepped on a trap again." Wizards transport him away, traps appear under him, monsters swallow or grapple him, he is cut off from the party over and over again. This doesn't always have to be something bad. Stroke his ego by having the big bad teleport him to his headquarters and try to convince him to join the forces of evil, because he just won't succeed without him (eye roll). While he's chatting with the big bad the rest of the adventurers are finishing up a couple battles and making real progress on the real adventure.
  • Make 'em pay: They want an unfair share of the treasure? Make sure there are plenty of cursed items, stolen items, and fake items that end up causing trouble for the character. For example they try to buy armor with gems they don't know are fake and end up being banished from the only town in 500 miles that can produce magical armor. And no, he can't send in another party member because they were all seen together. And yes, if he asks a local to go buy the armor for him they will take his money and disappear.
  • Have fun: Make this character the butt of every joke you can think of. wizards sprout tentacles on his face, he drinks something that makes his farts smell like vanilla marshmallows, whenever he talks people laugh at him, he has an insatiable craving for ketchup and can't concentrate unless he has some. This don't have to be vindictive, just fun. Giving players the opportunity to laugh at each other can go a long way.

The idea behind all of these is that if a character creates themselves to be more spectacular than the rest of the party, then they will stand out to NPCs and adversaries in the adventure and they will be disproportionately targeted. Use this to yours and the other players' advantage. Give the players the opportunity to have some breathing room and play some of the game without the dice hog.

\$\endgroup\$
  • 12
    \$\begingroup\$ Most of your solutions seem to be in-game... But you can't really address out-of-game problems with in-game solutions. \$\endgroup\$ – V2Blast Oct 2 '18 at 6:17
  • 1
    \$\begingroup\$ I certainly am not proposing these as the only solutions, only expanding on available options to create a complete approach, or at least an approach that feels right to the OP. Personally I would handle this situation person to person. But not everyone is skilled at that approach, and those approaches have been covered in previous responses. \$\endgroup\$ – lightcat Oct 2 '18 at 7:39
  • 1
    \$\begingroup\$ My issue here is that it is clear (to me at least) that OP is not interested in playing Players vs the DM style of game here. And all these proposals would do is further push the group down that path. Moreover, as a resourceful min-maxer these solutions would likely instigate more time away from the plot and other players as they struggle to negate or overcome the negative effect as they seem unlikely to simply accept them. \$\endgroup\$ – Rubiksmoose Oct 2 '18 at 13:47
  • 2
    \$\begingroup\$ Your answer started well, and sadly wandered into suggesting an abuse of DM power in game which will also show the new players the wrong message that you so clearly argue against in the first part of the answer. Suggest that your revise the second half of the answer to include techniques that do not involve creating a test of ego between the DM and the Player; that kind of punishment in practice will also be noticed by the other players. The "help them become a better player" won't happen if you single the player out for special punishment; quite the opposite. (Experience taught me this) \$\endgroup\$ – KorvinStarmast Oct 3 '18 at 13:12
  • 1
    \$\begingroup\$ @lightcat I've seen a lot of variations on the theme, all heavily dependent upon the personality of the player and RL player-to-player interpersonal dynamics. Advocating punishing for a player usually gets a negative reaction here, and at a lot of contemporary RPG discussion forums / blogs. The norms in the RPG community are changing. By all means stand by your answer. The comment was intended as a suggestion; like all free advice, this may be a case where it is worth about what you paid for it. (In case you are wondering, mine was one of your up votes; the first part earned it) \$\endgroup\$ – KorvinStarmast Oct 4 '18 at 14:08
7
\$\begingroup\$

In my experience, let them roll new character, but with level one lower than lowest in the group. This is method I used in my group that also make players think more about what they want to play.

Of course when player after few sessions decided that the class he is playing was not to his liking I allowed to "swap" charater without XP/level punishment.

\$\endgroup\$
  • \$\begingroup\$ This is the solution I used to adopt - these types of players are generally immature. \$\endgroup\$ – colmde Oct 19 '18 at 8:25
3
\$\begingroup\$

Greatness attracts its own problems

In regards to OP characters, you need to remind all the players that greatness is both a boon and a bane.

When combat starts, who do you think the big baddies are going to target first: the average-looking nobody standing in the corner holding a short sword? Nope.

They're going after Conan The Barbarian over there with his 18/00 strength holding his two-handed sword.

When word gets around about someone that is extraordinary, people could come out of the woodwork to challenge the OP character as a test of skill.

Bruce Lee's characters were challenged all the time by thugs and wannabes trying to test their might against the gold standard of martial arts.

The challenge may seem like a mere physical "beat opponent to goo" superficial thing, but it can really be a test of a player's character and alignment.

If a player is playing an exceptional fighter, but of good alignment, they likely would not murder someone that challenged them. They would realize after the first few blows that there is a serious mis-match in skill. And they would hold back their blows to do half damage or such, or knock them out rather than kill them.

If the OP PC decides to just go full steam on a challenger, and kills them, let them walk away thinking they bested them and that's the end of that.

Meanwhile, a bit of time down the road, suddenly the authorities show up arresting the OP PC. It turns out the person who got killed was someone important. Or, they didn't realize that a challenge is never to the death (they bested them and should have left them alive instead of killing them).

It's very cliche, but with great power comes great responsibility.

If a player has an OP character, then they are going to be a magnet for conflict, from the lowly hordes of baddies that will gang up on them first in combat (trying to take down the most capable person first) to perhaps even the Gods taking notice and messing around with them to try to prevent them from achieving some kind of destiny.

"OMG! It's the chosen one! We must smite them, lest the prophecy come true!"

Heracles was constantly harassed by Hera. (Greek Mythology)

With this approach in mind, go ahead and let the player make their OP / min-max'ed super awesome character. Just warn them that greatness can be a curse, and that power used fleetingly for ones own self-satisfaction and ego-stroking can have consequences.

\$\endgroup\$
1
\$\begingroup\$
  1. If he's getting bored playing a character and wants to try another, then instead of suiciding them, just tell him to hold off until they get back to a good stopping point (e.g. back to town from an adventure) and then the one character can part ways for a while to handle personal business, which lets the player swap in a new character. The old character could even just BS the introduction like "Hey, I have to go attend a family thing for a while, but I lined up a replacement for me. He's a good friend of mine." Pretty shallow segue to a different character, but whatever works. I've DMed where I allowed players to run 2 or 3 characters, but only one at a time. This let a player try out different characters, instead of feeling shackled to some character they made from the start but sorely wishing they could try something new.

  2. It takes time having to stop and vet a new character from a player that's gacked their old character. So, tell all the players that going forward, if someone dies mid-game, then you'll hand them a pre-rolled character that YOU made and YOU vetted, and they get to play that character for the rest of the session. That way, (a) you know the character that the player plays is something you'd like in your campaign, and (b) you don't stop and pause the game for an hour trying to read up on rules and junk for the new class someone is trying to play. The gamer may enjoy the character you give them and keep playing them. If they murder them on purpose, then they're not getting another character.

  3. If they're reading up on character classes you're not familiar with, don't allow the character class. I was GM/DM for a long time with a group, and one of the guys that played a mage loved digging into lore and buying supplement guides. Other folks would start reading up on alt-fighter builds and other stuff, and then ask if they could run them. I simply told them "no" - partly because they already had pre-established characters running, and partly because I didn't want to watch them go through "new toy syndrome" like a bunch of children, constantly grinding through alternate characters just to toss them aside and try another. If they want to min/max on the side, that's their prerogative, but I wouldn't let them have access to anything that I, as the GM/DM, wasn't comfortable with.

  4. Ego struggle ... Powergamers have an ego, and tend to backseat-drive the game. Typically they want to prove to everyone how bad their ass really is by having a secret pissing contest with authority figures. So, as the GM, they are trying to make you seem weak, or challenge your authority, basically doing whatever they can to make the characters seem like they're throwing wrenches in your plans and having their way with you.

    If the player is coming across like that, then simply tell them to run the game.

    I'm not even joking.

    If they want to power-game so bad, then put them in charge of DM'ing / GM'ing for a while.

    That has typically been the only way I've found to get power-gamers to settle down. It's all fun and games when you're a player and you feel like you're screwing over the GM with rules-lawyering, secret pacts with other players, game-breaking character builds and other tripe.

    But, the moment a power-gamer has to sit in the hot seat as a GM.. they get the tables turned on them and get to be the one sitting on the bench in the dunk tank with other players throwing balls at the target trying to dunk them.

    They will see how it feels.

    So, just quite simply tell your power-gamer that since they seem to be taking charge of other players and not really letting them think for themselves, and they seem to have a big hankering for reading up on things and trying them out, and they seem to have a problem with listening to what you have to say and working with you... tell them they get to run the next games for a while.

    YOU get to draw up a character, and YOU get to min-max and what-not. I wouldn't use it as an opportunity to be a royal jerk to them.

    But, you will quickly see the power-gamer's true colors when they GM. If they just abuse the crap out of the players / characters like they're a petty God (killing someone for a foolish reason, acting like the game is about the GM "winning", and other such non-sense) then the rest of the group can rally and decide if they want to keep them as a gamer in the group or not.

    Hopefully the power-gamer simply gets an idea of how hard it is to manage things from the GM side, and will maybe stop power-gaming and striving more towards plot and intrigue.

But, sad to say, what you describe is a player that's seriously entrenched in roll-playing (tossing dice, minmaxing, etc) and power gaming as a higher priority than role-playing.

An effective role-player can be given a character and play them. Maybe not well, but they will try, and will work towards everyone's enjoyment(not just their own).

A powergamer is sometimes just there using everyone like a masturbatory fantasy, and trying to live out some power dream they can get off to. When all is said and done, they've gotten what they wanted while everyone else was just a character in their one-man masturbatory play getting used up and thrown out and feeling dirty afterwards. If that is the kind of player you are dealing with, how the player generates a character is the least of your problems.

\$\endgroup\$
  • \$\begingroup\$ Hello and welcome! You can take the tour for a quick site introduction. In my opinion there is a lot of useful information in this answer. However I would like to note that we embrace a plurality of playstyles. Thank you for the contrbution. \$\endgroup\$ – Sdjz Oct 4 '18 at 7:46
  • 2
    \$\begingroup\$ In the interest of not getting an argument started about "badwrongfun" I have edited the tone of your last three paragraphs. I'd also suggest that you take a look at the Stormwind Fallacy article, since power-gamer and role-player are not necessarily mutually exclusive playing styles. (Though at a given table, there is a risk of incompatible play styles). We also have a post on it here \$\endgroup\$ – KorvinStarmast Oct 4 '18 at 13:43
52
\$\begingroup\$

Have all PCs generated by the same method

You say in a comment that the other players all used point buy. That simplifies this problem.

Tell this player: You generate with point buy, like everyone else.

It's just that simple. They can apply their considerable talents for min / max with point buy as well.

If you had had all of the other players roll for stats - yes, it is the default method in the rule book -- then this player rolling up a character in your presence would be a fine thing to do after another character died. But your group didn't do that.
You are the DM, you are the Master of Rules. (DMG, p. 5).

Put your foot down.

The best response to this request is:

"Point buy, like everyone else, and please get off of my back. DM's are allowed to have fun too; this agitation and constant complaining are harshing my groove." (Or similar words, in your own terms).

Be as tactful as need be, but be firm.

Group Dynamics and peer pressure

I'd also suggest that you discuss this with the whole table full of players. You need to get the rest of the players on your side, in terms of 'let's be fair to all.'

If all of the players are backing this player's play of "try to push the DM around" you need to identify that. If that's in the cards, ask them if that's how they really want this to play out: player versus DM. Your group might need to clear the air a little bit before you begin the next session.

\$\endgroup\$
6
\$\begingroup\$

Let them build their super character.

And then let the story continue with that in mind.

Issues 2 & 3 in your question are both a symptom of the player re-rolling, NOT of the player having an OP character. And you have said that the other players don't have an issue with this OP character.

So agree with the player that they only get to roll an OP character once. Death beyond that will result in resurrecting the OP character (maybe with some penalty to give them incentive to NOT die).
Remind the player that this isn't a test-bed for new character ideas. It's a living story that involves a number of players and your time as a DM.

Balance - Keep the OP character in mind, but don't hamstring the whole party for them. Will they find some types of combat easier? Maybe. Will they choose social acuity over combat prowess? Possibly. You can let the story drive the interaction more than the mechanical difficulty.

Many modern story-driven games have a "Story" or "Casual" mode which is a lower difficulty that lets players get through the story without focusing too much on gear, stats, and tactical expertise. As long as all the players at the table are comfortable with an "easier" experience, you can still tell the story together while their in-party superhero keeps everyone safe and on track.

\$\endgroup\$
6
\$\begingroup\$

There are multiple options for you to handle this, which other answers have addressed. What I'd like to add is that character generation is ultimately under your control. You are under no obligation to:

  • let your players make whatever characters they want, particularly if those characters use source material outside of the core rulebooks (like the Runeblade class you mentioned). If you're not familiar with the class, how it plays, and how to adjudicate the use of its powers, don't allow your players to use it. If a character's stats are unbalanced with the rest of the party in a way that is disruptive to the play of the game or the fun the players have, change them.
  • allow your players to make multiple characters and play the one they want to
  • allow your players to suicide their characters

Similarly, you have control over the party loot. If one player makes loot grabs and the rest of the group allows it to happen, maybe that party member gains an Etherial Filcher as his/her special friend, and the extra loot that the player accumulated keeps mysteriously vanishing. Be creative, and you can spin this into a quest for the players to solve, with some no-so-subtle messaging that the DM expects players to distribute loot fairly.

\$\endgroup\$
37
\$\begingroup\$

You Don't Have to Allow This

In DnD, party balance is an important aspect. Naturally, the goal isn't that everyone is equally good at everything: characters in particular classes or of particular races will have specialized roles or advantages, which other characters cannot achieve. But overall, the goal is that everyone will have certain advantages and disadvantages which balance each other out. Your player is trying to violate this tenant left and right: explicitly trying to make their character the "strongest" one in the party.

An explicit attempt to unbalance the game is something you don't have to put up with. And nothing in the game requires you to do so. There are no explicit rules in the general rulebooks stating that when a character dies, their player gets to make a new character of the same level, or that they get to reroll the Abilities of their characters. In fact, in the Adventurer's League, the rules on character death (page 7) either require you to raise the character from the dead somehow, or to have the player create a new Level 1 character.

If you are not playing in the Adventurer's League, there are a few methods you could use to curtail this.

Restrict to point buy

This would work particularly well if the other players created their characters through point buy. If they didn't you could work out the point buy value of the characters in your game so far, and allow the problem player to create a character with the point buy value of the highest current character. For example, if one of the other characters Ability scores (before racial bonuses) were 15, 15, 15, 15, 10, 8, you could give the problem player 9+9+9+9+2+0=38 points to create their new character, ensuring that they create a character that is balanced with existing characters in the party.

Restrict to previous rolls (or make the next roll final)

You are well within your rights to restrict the problem player to Ability Rolls they've already made. If you are allowed to roll repeatedly, it basically invalidates the point of rolling at all: why would anyone stop at anything less than 18s in their attack stats at level 1 if they could just keep rerolling until that's what they got? You could warn this player that the next time they create a new character, whatever Ability scores they roll will be the ones they have to use for all subsequent characters.

You could explain this as a balance issue, or you could point out what you've told us: that the constant changes of character are difficult to plan around, both tactically and in terms of the story: that you really need to have some sense of where this player's character is headed to plan ahead yourself.

Raise the Dead

You could, through the players' actions or through the actions of NPCs, raise the player's previous character from the dead. Granted, if they committed suicide before, they're likely to do so again. But you could make it clear that their character getting raised is the only way they can return to the game.

Change their minds, or...

This is by far the most difficult plan, but may be the only viable one.

Your problem player is not only trying to create a character that is strong enough to take on any dangers from monsters, but is explicitly trying to make a character that is stronger than the others in the party. They may be helpful to the party's goals, but they are dangerous to its cohesion and atmosphere.

DnD is inherently a social game. There's no need for our characters to all get along: they may compete, and try to get the better of each other, or even become outright antagonistic. But while this is fine between characters (and could even be a great boon to the story), it is not at all fine between players.

You want your players to work together towards a common goal: that goal is fun. If the players start seeing each other as opponents, then you're no longer creating a story, you're managing group/couples therapy. And while that's an admirable goal, it's not what you signed up for.

This player is abusing a system set up to be balanced, in a way that benefits only themselves. This is apparent not only in their out-of-character decisions to make new characters, but in their in-character arguments that they should get more than their share of the treasure to make themselves even stronger. If you can talk them out of this mindset, then I urge you to do so: but it may not be possible, or it may not be worth the trouble.

I'll give you advice that I hope you'll seriously consider passing along to this player: you want to be the strongest one in your group? There's an easy way to do that. Stay home.

\$\endgroup\$
  • \$\begingroup\$ This is no problem in AL because AL characters don't roll for stats \$\endgroup\$ – b a Oct 2 '18 at 8:51
  • \$\begingroup\$ The OP could also say the previous roll was final, if the current stats were not too unbalanced. \$\endgroup\$ – jpmc26 Oct 2 '18 at 22:22
23
\$\begingroup\$

At the end of the day, you are the DM

Look, if someone's being a problem to you, and after speaking to them they just don't stop, there's a point when you have to start putting the foot down. If this is actually interfering with your fun with the game, then it's a problem to talk about. The idea of D&D is that everyone should be having fun here, and thus, you are included in it.

I would sit down with the player and discuss it politely once more, but leave with a fair warning that you are not going to stand by the whole suiciding characters because they want to be the best. D&D is a team-based game, and there should not be any spotlight being stolen from the group as a whole.

One thing is to just have terrible stats and wishing to re-roll because you legitimately have had a very bad streak (Which is something that actually happened to me in a game, and I talked it politely and was allowed to re-roll, and I am more than happy with my character now). But re-rolling, because they want to achieve the mythical 6 18s, is just dumb, and if the player doesn't listen, there has to be a point where you should remove the player off the table if they just won't play the game and just expect to min-max everything. There's a table for everything and, if you're not going for that, then players have to understand your expectations as well as much as they have to understand other players' expectations

On the topic of personal items

I honestly feel personal items are good, they allow players to feel that you thought of them when doing those items, that you have them in mind, appreciate them and overall, like to see them develop. You should drop items every now and then that tie into one of them only, be it from backstory or simple coincidence with classes.

Disclaimer

I am not advocating that removing a player is always the best strategy, I only feel it's necessary when all other possible resources have been exhausted and they are legitimately affecting the table in a negative manner. Please don't think that I am saying "Remove them" as the first or second or fourth option.

\$\endgroup\$

protected by KorvinStarmast Oct 4 '18 at 16:08

Thank you for your interest in this question. Because it has attracted low-quality or spam answers that had to be removed, posting an answer now requires 10 reputation on this site (the association bonus does not count).

Would you like to answer one of these unanswered questions instead?

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.