I am in a pathfinder campaign where the GM has straight up told me that our martial characters are too powerful and making the game unbalanced for everyone. We are currently level 3 and our characters are Brawler, magus, unchained monk, cleric, dusk blade, inquisitor, and Zweihander Sentinel (Warder Archetype). We usually only have 4-5 players at any given time on at most. The characters the GM specifically has a problem with is the Zweihander, Brawler, and unchained monk as all 3 of which were optimized for fighting, this is what these players wanted to be strong in. The GM says they kill stuff to fast and do not let the others do enough during combat. I keep telling them that is about all those characters can do, they do not heal, they cant influence people, they are great at combat. The GM seems to have the mentality that it is GM vs Player. They believe boss type fights, after all characters have rested and are full should either kill or down the majority of players and are mad that they have a hard time reliably hitting these players. They keep buffing the mobs and throwing stuff +3 or more CR at us and even modifying them from there.(Black skeleton that has vampiric strike and 2 wraiths that also healed the skeleton when they hit, all of them were regularly hitting AC 26).

I am not sure how to approach them anymore as I keep explaining that martial characters are stronger in combat out of the gate but slow down the higher level they get. The other players like the martial characters in the party as it keeps them alive. Does anyone have any suggestions for what I can do?

  • 1
    \$\begingroup\$ Seems the GM is quite inexperienced. Did you try to talk to him in private (outside the game/group)? \$\endgroup\$
    – Mala
    Mar 26, 2016 at 0:06
  • \$\begingroup\$ I think its a numbers shock, and i do not know how to address this \$\endgroup\$
    – Vyanie
    Mar 26, 2016 at 0:16
  • \$\begingroup\$ Are you playing one of these "overpowered" martial characters that annoys the GM? \$\endgroup\$ Mar 26, 2016 at 7:32
  • \$\begingroup\$ Thanks for the help, group just disbanded instead. The GM wanted to make martial characters a 15 point buy and leave the others at their rolled stats (around a 60 point buy)the martials already all took a 30 point buy previously. Yes i was one of the"overpowered" characters hitting 2 times with brawlers flurry for a total of 15 ish damage was deemed op at level 3. Trip is also deemed op, so are any CMB. \$\endgroup\$
    – Vyanie
    Mar 26, 2016 at 13:11
  • \$\begingroup\$ I think this might be a lot like this question. \$\endgroup\$ Mar 26, 2016 at 15:42

2 Answers 2


First, you need to get together as a group, outside the session, and decide what game you're playing. Should combat be deadly? Should characters be optimized? You need to agree on that. It's possible to rotate between everyone's favorite activities to an extent, but only if the fundamentals are clear. It sounds like some of the PC's don't enjoy near-death experiences, and that's okay. Remember, you're there to have fun, and it's not fun unless it's fun for everyone.

An analogy: supposing several of you had agreed to get together and play cards every week. Now several of you really like Hearts, and one prefers Go Fish. But every week, one player grabs the deck and announces "OK, let's play some poker. Ante up, everybody." What would you do? Hopefully after a couple times, you'd speak up, right? It sounds like you know you need to say something, but I want to illustrate that this is a disconnect that (from what I can see) affects the entire group, and the entire group needs to address it together.

Ideally, you could do this not during your regular time, so you're neither saying something that might invalidate what the DM has planned for the next three hours, nor coming off another session where people are frustrated and tired. If you can get people together at a different time to say "Hey, let's review our expectations for the game", I'd do so. Or maybe suggest this in lieu of playing one week. If others recognize that there's an issue, they should be on board.

You've indicated that you're not sure what to say, so here's some sample dialogue for you: "Joe, it seems like there's a disconnect in what we're each trying to get out of this game. It seems you really want encounters to be challenging, even deadly. But for me, when I build a powerful fighting character, I really want them to feel powerful most of the time, able to easily defeat routine enemies and stand on an equal footing with strong ones." Then let all the other PC's and the DM weigh in.

Be prepared for this to go differently than you expect. Maybe others will say they enjoy these deadly fights where you get out by the skin of your teeth. Maybe one of the casters will say it is frustrating when it seems like a fight between the martial characters and the DM, and they're on the sidelines. The key is to listen to what each person wants, even if it doesn't match what you want or what anyone else wants. Remember, there are many different ways to play DND, and none of them are objectively better or worse - what matters is having fun or not.

Then say, "Ok, it sounds like we have some things in common [if that's true] and there are some things we see differently. I found this checklist online - would you be willing to go through it together and see if there's a style that's at least acceptable for everyone?" (Remember, this is about consensus - do not fill it out separately and then "vote". You want everyone to say "yeah" or at least "we could try that, I guess" for every choice.)

I'm not gonna lie to you - I'm not sure there is a style that all of you will enjoy. You may find that, having discussed and acknowledged the gap, you'll be willing to compromise and try going along with the majority in order to make the game happen. As long as everyone is sincere about being willing to give it a go, that can work. But you also may find that one or more of you wants something totally different from the rest, to the point where it doesn't make sense to play together. (Analogy time again: if you really don't like Monopoly, you're unlikely to sign up for many hours a month of it just for the sake of staying in a board game group.) That's fine, and not playing because you have different tastes in games is not a referendum on anyone personally.

There are questions of party balance and encounter design lurking in here. But I've removed specific suggestions about that because the bigger issue really needs to be resolved first. When you or your DM come back to us and say "OK, we all want the same thing, but we're not sure how to achieve it" (probably in a new question), we'll be here.

  • \$\begingroup\$ I say our high AC character got hit every single time, not a single miss and ended up with 1 str and 3 con. Our brawler with second highest AC never got missed once and had 1 con 2 str... if these things are hitting 26+ AC regularly then the other guys are toast in seconds. Combat is about half and half, it kind of makes the combat characters feel useless when they are built like that and everything is buffed up to be able to counter them easily, then in skills rolls since they don't have much they are gimped. \$\endgroup\$
    – Vyanie
    Mar 26, 2016 at 1:05
  • \$\begingroup\$ The only reason we won that fight is because color spray and trip literally the only thing those 2 were doing. the fight before that the GM fatigued all of the martial characters, the save roll was high (brawler rolled a natural 20 and still failed.) It just feels that they have taken the thing these characters should be shining with and made them just the same as the ones with more options. Making the mobs immune to weapons would negate the martial characters entirely. I am honestly trying to get an idea on how to approach the gm a different way before half the group just leaves. \$\endgroup\$
    – Vyanie
    Mar 26, 2016 at 1:08
  • \$\begingroup\$ OK, I've edited my answer to be more specific about the "how to approach" question. Let me know if that's helpful. \$\endgroup\$ Mar 26, 2016 at 13:56

Your DM has a legitimate problem.

Have you ever tried to design a fun encounter for a party that can't be hit by any attack? It's really hard! When this happens to me, it's tempting to say something like: "Let's not bother with this combat, the monsters can't hurt you."

(You've noted that two of your five characters can be hit by attacks but that doesn't really help. Your DM wants there to be at least a little bit of dramatic tension in the combat and your invulnerable characters are thwarting that.)

Your DM is trying to solve the problem by scaling up the monsters but as you've noted that's not really a good solution.

Of course this isn't really your fault. I've been in this same spot, and what I was thinking was: "I'm trying to win the campaign here! If I have to nerf myself by choosing deliberately stupid tactics, the game won't be fun for me!"

This brings us to our next point:

How did you get AC26 at level 3, anyway?

I've never seen a level 3 Pathfinder character with AC 26 -- certainly not one who had that and could still make attacks. Are you and your allies using some sort of weird expansion books? Are you sure you're using all the rules correctly?

It might be that the problem is that you're using some sort of weird optional rules. Consider switching your three unbalanced characters to core-rules-only if you haven't already.

If that doesn't help, consider modifying your characters to not have the focus on AC. Focus on skills, or damage, or reach weapon and attacks of opportunity.

House rules can help.

My experience is that, when players want to optimize, they're usually happy accepting an additional rule to optimize on. I would recommend a house rule like: "In this campaign it's not physically possible for player characters to have an AC over 18."

  • \$\begingroup\$ The 26 was after going full defensive so he could not attack, the group pulled our money to get him a nice set of armor and full buffs from the casters and aiding him... we were trying really hard to not let him die and the gm was mad they could not kill them when they were focused. even more mad i rolled natural 20 more than once to trip the black skele to try and save him. \$\endgroup\$
    – Vyanie
    Mar 26, 2016 at 18:55
  • \$\begingroup\$ It is more of the fact the players were using tactics, trip, color spray, flanking and such. We were desperately trying to survive and we burnt all of our spells/ skills/ potions /scrolls to do so. The DM just really wanted to "win" the encounter... we were also getting super lucky on rolls the entire time. \$\endgroup\$
    – Vyanie
    Mar 26, 2016 at 18:58
  • \$\begingroup\$ Its ok, the group broke up when the DM wanted the martial characters to go a stupid low point buy and ban all combat maneuvers and reach weapons. \$\endgroup\$
    – Vyanie
    Mar 26, 2016 at 19:03
  • \$\begingroup\$ in normal full plate armor with a tower shield you have 24 AC with no buffs so the whole thing of not having AC over 18 would render armor kind of useless, add in any buffs + aid another and it is very easy to get 26 AC \$\endgroup\$
    – Vyanie
    Mar 26, 2016 at 19:54

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