I have made a couple of builds that do everything, and seen several more as both a GM and as a player. These are builds that go beyond powerbuilding, and into the realm of taking over for the entire party. I'm not talking specifically about casters that do everything via magic, but rather a wider variety of builds designed to truly do everything. They cast, fight, tank, heal, and have the potential to take over entire campaigns. They have every skill, they need no party, and they don't even have the excuse of being specialized in something as generalized as "arcane casting."

Just as a few examples, I have seen an alchemist build that gets insane AC, heals, trapfinds, and has most skills in the book. On it's own, it's a monster. I have also personally created a Bard/Arcane Trickster build that gets high-level Sneak Attack, near-full Bard casting, skills for days, trapfinding, and decent physical combat potential.

As a GM, in your experience, how should I deal with players who insist on playing something that has no need for any other character in the party, in such a way that it becomes an actuality? What should I recommend that they do, other than "play a different character," so that they get to play the character they want to play and don't over-power the party?

In addition, if there are any over-powered builds/abusable mechanics in this vein that you would like to share for other GMs to be cautious of, that would be appreciated. Yes, we are aware that Wizard 20 is capable of the above in some way or another, but there are other abusable classes/builds.


marked as duplicate by V2Blast Jul 5 at 4:48

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  • \$\begingroup\$ What do the other players think about this situation? \$\endgroup\$ – Mark Wells Jul 1 at 2:49
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    \$\begingroup\$ @BrandonOlson Maybe it's not 100% clear what problem you want to solve, or why such a character is a concern. Have there been real games where such characters were problematic, and the GM struggled to counter them? What was problematic about it? Experience and examples could help. \$\endgroup\$ – MikeQ Jul 1 at 3:52
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    \$\begingroup\$ There is an obvious reasonable solution, "ask them to play a different character", which you've already ruled out, but you haven't said why. This suggests there's some big undisclosed obstacle to asking the player to change their behavior. So how much cooperation can you expect from this player in solving the problem? \$\endgroup\$ – Mark Wells Jul 2 at 14:41
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    \$\begingroup\$ I don’t think this is answerable for both a non-specific game + a non-specific situation. One is a stretch, both is two big steps toward being too broad. \$\endgroup\$ – SevenSidedDie Jul 5 at 2:58
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    \$\begingroup\$ @BrandonOlson: Done. I also rolled this question back to its previous version before the latest edit. \$\endgroup\$ – V2Blast Jul 5 at 4:49

Characters who can do anything can't do everything.

No single character can fully replicate the gameplay potential of an entire party. Let's say a player somehow built a character that excels at every possible role, like you said. Even if they can do anything particularly well, they are still constrained by the action economy of the system, and the logic of the story. They can't do everything at once.

In combat, everything has an opportunity cost; generally speaking, one character gets one standard action per turn, and one per round. If they're casting a damage spell, then they aren't casting a buff or heal spell. And even if they do cast multiple spells using Quicken Metamagic, eventually they'll run out of spell slots. If they drop unconscious, or lose their turn due to an enemy spell, they can't bring themselves back up.

Out of combat, there are similar restrictions due to the narrative. If they are socializing with NPCs, then they can't simultaneously be sneaking around the castle walls or investigating for clues. If they are on lookout duty in the wilderness at night, then they aren't resting to regain their spells. And generally speaking, one character can't really engage in witty banter with themselves.

As a caveat, since this is Pathfinder, there are single-player builds that can simulate a multi-player group, given a sufficiently high level and resources. Necromancer casters can surround themselves with a militia of undead warriors, filling up the battlefield with cheap martial units. Arcane casters with greater planar binding can recruit an extraplanar posse that fulfills a variety of roles. And anyone with high Charisma can hire a town's worth of adventurers, via the Leadership feat. Balance concerns aside, such characters can be concerning because they bog down combat, and turn downtime into a logistical nightmare. The GM can prevent such builds by discussing their expectations with your players, and possibly restricting which spells and resources the player characters can access.

Do-anything characters are not necessarily a problem.

Try thinking about this situation differently. If a single player character can adequately perform any role, then they would easily fit in virtually any party! They can cover any of the party's weaknesses, and provide redundancy for the party's existing strengths. Does the party need someone in the frontlines? Then their AC and martial weapons will help. Does the party need healing? A wall spell? Is the rogue's player out sick and the party needs to disarm a trap? Whatever the party needs, there's a character who definitely can provide it.

This would only be a problem if the players fail to figure out their own roles. For example, if the do-anything character periodically interrupts other players, stealing the spotlight before they can contribute, then yes that would be bad. However that's a player problem, best resolved via a conversation between the players. As GM, your in-game mechanical tools aren't going to address that, although you can facilitate conversations when the players discuss which characters should do what.

  • \$\begingroup\$ Just an alert that the question changed enough that a new question was needed and this was marked as a duplicate, but your advice is nearly just as relevant in the context of the new question. \$\endgroup\$ – Brandon Olson Jul 5 at 6:15

Not a GM, but it just seems like being a Jack of all Trades still doesn't make up for being a Master of None?

Just exploit that weakness?

A Bard / Arcane Trickster, sounds like it's pretty magic-reliant. Nullify that, and capitalize on its Jack-level combat?

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    \$\begingroup\$ Except that I'm not asking about JoaT classes. The Bard, Rogue, Warpriest, Alchemist, and several classes fill that role, and don't severely threaten a campaign. I also have issues with GMs who target a character's weaknesses specifically because they don't like build or think it's too powerful, which is why I"m looking to deal specifically with the player and only tangentially with the character. \$\endgroup\$ – Brandon Olson Jul 1 at 1:17

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