6
\$\begingroup\$

I'm running a Savage Worlds game in a rugged sci-fi genre (think Firefly or Guardians of the Galaxy), and I've got a problem. One of my player characters is wildly over-powered in combat, (multiple attacks per turn, crazy stacked bonuses, etc.),1 while the rest of my team is normal and balanced. It was my own fault, this was my first game as GM and the player made a fun pitch for his character, and I didn't realize how it would play out once the game got going.

Normally I'd talk to the player and strike a compromise to re-balance the character, but for two things: first, the player likely won't be with us for much longer so the problem will likely solve itself, and second, it's not unheard of for the character to entertain the party with his over-the-top nature (e.g. it's fun when Iron Man annihilates 100 guys in a minute, even if Captain America can only kill 4).

That being said, I still need to design encounters that are fun for all involved, and when one character can reliably kill 3-4 enemies per turn, that's getting tough. I've tried making the enemies tougher, but that means no one else in the party has a chance of getting a kill, and I've tried making hordes of enemies that even he can't overpower too quickly, but given how swing-y Savage Worlds is that could easily lead to everyone getting slaughtered from a few good (read: bad) rolls.

In the end I've started making combats less frequent (the character in question sucks at everything else), which is probably good for my education as a GM anyway, but I'm curious: are there other tricks for making fun combat encounters with an over-powered character? Surely I'm not the first person to wrestle with this problem.

Is there anything else I should try?


1 He's a Rocket Raccoon (from Guardians of the Galaxy) homage character called Battle Chimp, with racial Extra Limb traits that allow a gun to be held in all four "hands" (i.e. chimp hands & feet), ambidextrous (taken separately for each "hand") so all 4 are without penalty, then Shooting d8 and several edges to increase marksmanship, all on top of 3-round-bursting or doubling-tapping on every shot. He's got hindrances (like drug addiction, enemies, etc) and a lack of non-combat skills that balance everything out, mathematically speaking, but in combat he's just unstoppable.

\$\endgroup\$
  • \$\begingroup\$ What book(s) are you using? I'm guessing the Super Powers Companion since you mentioned them having multiple attacks. \$\endgroup\$ – Thunderforge Jan 21 '15 at 2:00
  • 1
    \$\begingroup\$ A couple of additional questions - ambidextrous get's rid of the offhand penalty, but not the MAP. If they shoot all four guns in a round, each shot should be at -6 to hit unless there are other factors involved. \$\endgroup\$ – Wibbs Jan 21 '15 at 8:08
  • \$\begingroup\$ So he's got 4 limbs in total and a weapon in each one, right? So how does he move around? Is he in a wheelchair? does he have skates stapled to his butt? Instead of a stand up brawl get everyone moving around and this guy is soon going to see that over optimisation can only get you so far. \$\endgroup\$ – user4075 Jan 21 '15 at 16:28
  • \$\begingroup\$ Also, I'll bet this player has conveniently skipped over a few limitations of the advantages he's taken. A very careful review will probably find something to break his character. \$\endgroup\$ – user4075 Jan 21 '15 at 16:30
18
\$\begingroup\$

Well, as you stated, a smart approach when this happens is to just ask the player, but with that out of the question here are some options I might use in this situation:

  1. Give objectives. Try to add in something extra to the fight, maybe a lever to pulled, or even better, a door to be unlocked (either locky-picky, or with hacking). A cool way to use this is to have a battle that the group (including him) isn't ready to face, but giving them an "out". Just make sure that they know that they can't win this fight — nothing is worst than hubris getting in the way of an awesome escape scene. With this the rest of the group still has stuff to do (the hacker can try and open the door while someone strong might try to barricade them a bit, etc.) while he is getting challenged to "real" fight.

  2. Boss with minions. This is less fun in the long run, but here and there it could do you wonders — have a fight that centers around a main baddy. This leads to one of two options: a) That he has to focus all of his efforts on the baddy, giving them time to fight the goons; or the somewhat better b) of letting them take on the baddy (merely being strong isn't enough, it needs some skill or combination of skills to kill him) letting them show off what they are good at, and giving him the feeling of power that comes with mowing down 7 baddies in 2 rounds.

  3. Split the party either before the fight, or through the sheer size of it (he can't be everywhere at once, can he?), so that he might take out everyone in one room, but that doesn't quite cover the next room where the other part of the group is fighting.

And yes, having less combat, even in Savage Worlds, is a good thing — it helps you evolve as a GM, and it's often more fun than "another random fight". Fights are cool, but they aren't the only cool thing, not in role-playing games: the coolest thing, is playing a role.

\$\endgroup\$
  • \$\begingroup\$ Welcome to RPG.SE, Michael Weil. This is a good first answer, so I'm assuming you've probably already read our help and FAQ, but if not you might want to check them out. \$\endgroup\$ – GMJoe Jan 21 '15 at 0:53
  • \$\begingroup\$ I just want to add to your #1 that having the combat character "hold off" the impending doom while the rest of the party puzzle-solves, lockpicks, and keeps their hero's back clear of mooks can make a good encounter even better, without excluding the combat character. \$\endgroup\$ – gatherer818 Jan 22 '15 at 0:25
6
\$\begingroup\$

I had a munchkin in my old group who used to minimax very powerful characters. The other players, not so much. What I eventually wound up doing was providing a variety of opponents, such that figuring out who should attack who became part of the combat strategy. For example, if we were playing Star Wars and the munchkin was a Jedi, the bad guys would have a Sith among their ranks. Not necessarily as the Boss, mind you, just tailored to give the munchkin a challenge, since he was best kitted out to fight other Force users and the other players were better at getting into firefights with Droidekas. You don't have to tell the players, at that point, "Okay, let Shorty handle the Sith Lord"; they'll just naturally back off once they see the red saber and realize that any blaster fire they send his way may not only hit their own Jedi (firing into melee penalties, yay!), but also be deflected back into their own faces.

Likewise when I run Marvel; the guy who wants to play the Hulk pretty much guarantees that the Abomination will be among the enemies that week. The guy playing Iron Man won't care because also among the enemies is Whiplash, who he's well suited (ha!) to deal with. Likewise Cap, who is on mook cleanup detail. Oh wait, there's Batroc.

Sure, Cap could distract the Abomination while Iron Man cleaned up the mooks and Hulk crumpled Whiplash into a ball of tinfoil, but that runs the risk of Cap botching a defense check and getting splattered and then the team is down one man whereas if they'd divvied up better they'd not have been in that situation.

Basically, what I'm saying is, provide a mix of enemies similar to the mix of the party and let them sort it out. Bonus if you can tailor the munchkin's enemies towards his own backstory; that way he has a reason to always be running into these guys (maybe they're rogue Battle Chimps and he has to bring them down, or they think he's the rogue?)

\$\endgroup\$
1
\$\begingroup\$

Leverage the hindrances more? Maybe the drug addiction could cripple him mid-fight when a bad batch goes wrong? I am assuming he has pumped all of his stats in agility so having to make vigor or spirit rolls to overcome his bad drugs could slow him down.

Or alternatively using the enemy hindrance build a similarly powered nemesis for him and then have it target h while the minions or other troops tussle with the others, maybe also working in non-combat tasks into combat (like hacking a turret or similar for example) so the others can shine?

\$\endgroup\$

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service, privacy policy and cookie policy

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