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I'm playing a campaign with five other players. Our DM allowed a lot of manuals and said there was no problem building as we wanted, as long as we consulted him for important decisions.

We ended up with a lot of T1 classes, and a couple of weaker characters.

The problem is that, while I and another guy carefully planned our build, the others just mashed together a few feats, and the power difference is starting to show. While the other one is playing a T3 (Crusader), so, even while powerful, he's still on par with the others, I'm playing an Arteficer, and sometimes it looks like I'm winning fights by myself.

I already spoke with my DM, and he agreed it's a problem, but he is at a loss on what to do. All other have classes with a lot of untapped potential (Wizard, Druid, Cleric..) but everyone seems uninterested into learning how they can build and play better.

How can I (or the DM) encourage those players to read a few manuals and enhance their pg?

EDIT: as asked multiple times in the comments, I'll try to clarify how the others approach the game. During our game sessions they often ask what they could buy or how they could improve. However, they tend to get bored if the discussion carries on for too long.

The group is mainly focused towards fighting, as everyone seems having more fun during combats than during NPC interactions.

Also, during RP sessions some of them often tend to get uninterested or avoid speaking altogether, do our DM has been focusing more on combat

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    \$\begingroup\$ Are you sure these players WANT to have powerful characters, or is that maybe not the part of the game they enjoy? \$\endgroup\$ – Erik Oct 4 '16 at 12:12
  • \$\begingroup\$ I'm fairly sure at least two of them would like a more powerful character. For example, I argued with the wizard that control spells and debuff spells are more powerful than pure damage spells. However, he keeps getting damage ones, and remains convinced that this is the most effective way to win a fight \$\endgroup\$ – BgrWorker Oct 4 '16 at 12:28
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    \$\begingroup\$ Are the other players having fun? \$\endgroup\$ – KorvinStarmast Oct 4 '16 at 13:11
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    \$\begingroup\$ Min/Maxing or optimizing your character for combat encounters is one aspect of RPGs. Can you add some details explaining if your whole group focusses on this one aspect? Does your group agree that this is a problem? \$\endgroup\$ – nvoigt Oct 4 '16 at 13:30
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    \$\begingroup\$ Are the other players aware of how much work you are doing? If the wizard likes to roll big numbers, and you use optimized control to better enable him, even if you have more impact on the fight the wizard will still feel like he's contributing a lot and be happy. \$\endgroup\$ – Ethan Oct 4 '16 at 17:59
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Snappie's answer includes the fundamental piece of information to your specific situation - the answer to your question entirely depends on the reason why those players didn't initially put that effort into the character. Whatever the reasons may be, I agree that you shouldn't force anyone to adjust to your personal feel of how the game should be played. Instead, there's a few ways of taking a softer approach to the problem:

Helping in the character creating process, and providing a friendly environment

In case of players not wanting to spend effort into building their character, having a character creator that automates the building process and minimizes or even excludes errors in the creation can be very helpful, especially for players new to a certain system. In the same spirit, offering help with character creation is among the best things you can provide (safe for an easy-to-use, yet complete character creator - something I have yet to see).

Playing D&D doesn't come as easy to everyone as it does to the most experienced players in the party, so making sure everyone is able to play their character or understands the game as perfectly as needed is one of the better services you can provide as a fellow player. In case everyone's familiar with the game and their character, you can still make sure everyone gets their fifteen minutes of fame (so to speak) in order for them to enjoy themselves (which includes not stealing their show). If not being too much into the game being the reason that they don't put a lot of effort into the character creation process, trying to make the gaming experience better for them is the best way I can see to try to get them to put more effort into it.

Not every character is created equal

Adjusting your own character to bring everyone to the same level works great and is easy, but if you don't want to do that (which I would see as a given if you spent a long time working out each and every detail), there are other ways in which you can balance characters of different power levels.

To name an example - I currently find myself in a party of experienced players, which however are not overly dedicated to character creation, and I'm playing a Barbarian with a power level that can one-shot not only about every enemy on our difficulty grade, but also survive a great amount of hits due to a lot of hit points and immunities to lots of types of magic. While playing, that doesn't pose as too much of a problem, though, as I'm playing the character as a holding-back fighter that only competes with opponents seemingly worth fighting against, and otherwise work together with the DM to build a story rather than participating "only" as a player character.

This works out nicely for everyone in my group (at least from what I've seen), but whether it's applicable at all for you and your adventure, and whether that's something you want, is an entirely different story.
For my group, this didn't only fix the problem of different power levels, but also created a lot more depth in the story, as opposed to the simple "go to X and beat Y" formula.

Adjust the adventure

Of course, there's also the possibility that those charaters are stronger than they appear, due to certain specialities they have, maybe don't know how to use. Whether those skills matter, however, depends entirely on the structure of the adventure - for example, a Rogue won't be disarming any traps if the DM doesn't include a great many in their adventure.

Your DM can adjust the usefulness of the seemingly lower-powered characters by shifting the difficulty of the adventure from mainly combat-focussed to having to solve other elements. This isn't limited to traps, as it can mean diplomatic endeavors, craftsmanship tests, and of course the ability to solve puzzles, which always challenges the player and not their character.

Reward your players

This applies regardless of what the reason for your question may be, as everyone has different wants and goals playing D&D or other pen-and-paper games: Every player wants to get something out of the game, and if you or your DM manages to figure that out, incorporates it into the adventure and satisfies the player's expectations, you don't need to worry about other players having characters which are considered stronger. If the player wants to be the #1 monster slayer in the known world, this can be a hard task to achieve, but many players are looking for other tasks - playng a personality they feel like exporing, providing help for the rest of the party in time of need, or simply spending time with friends and playing a fun game. This may sound obvious to some, but then it's harder to see from a point of view that's very focussed on building (or even breaking) a strong character. I say that from experience.

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    \$\begingroup\$ Both yours and @Snappie's answer provide a lot of useful feedback, however I'm accepting your answer because it focuses less on why there is an issue and more on how we could fix it \$\endgroup\$ – BgrWorker Oct 5 '16 at 12:33
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Ask yourself and the other players a few questions. You know the players, so you'll know what questions are relevant better than I do.

Would those other players have fun playing really strong min-maxed characters?

Character min-maxing isn't for everyone. Some people enjoy low powered games. Maybe they're just not that much into dnd and therefor aren't willing to spend so much time building their characters.

Would you still have fun playing a weaker character?

If the problem is a massive power difference between players than it may be worthwhile to tackle the problem from another angle. Build weaker characters for you and the other guy with a powerful character. If you could have fun that way this is definitely an option you should consider.

Do those other players enjoy building characters?

Players can consider the character building process to be incredible boring. Maybe you just enjoy doing it way more than they do. Maybe they just want to focus on the story and their personality instead.

Do they simply not know how to build strong characters?

If you're persistent on having them build stronger characters, help them out with building their characters. Inexperienced players will usually build weaker characters because they don't know what their options are.

In any case, I would advise not to force or push them to hard to do anything.

Final Note: Are you sure you even want them to minmax their characters?

The DM might not realise it now but running a campaign for a full party of min-maxed characters may end up in a "Win initiative, win battle" kind of game. This happens naturally because if a party goes through combats too easily DM's have incentive to make combats tougher. This is a legitimate way of playing and people can enjoy this type of game. But it isn't the type of game for everyone so it's something to think about.

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    \$\begingroup\$ Who is the man, and who is the monster, sing the bells of Notre Dame - who is the problem player, and who is not? good point. \$\endgroup\$ – Mindwin Oct 4 '16 at 13:33
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    \$\begingroup\$ Good answer, I even told to my DM that, if my character was going to be a problem, I could make a less powerful one as long as I could play it to its maximum. He countered that, for now, we're too low level to really notice (lv 5), but it could become a problem as we approach higher levels \$\endgroup\$ – BgrWorker Oct 4 '16 at 14:47
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    \$\begingroup\$ I was invited to play DnD with four people who'd never played before, and they all rolled non-arcane classes. I made a wizard to balance the party, but focused him almost entirely on making the other characters awesome (transmutation+enchantment) Everyone is having a blast. \$\endgroup\$ – Mooing Duck Oct 4 '16 at 20:25
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I think that you're looking at this from a limited perspective. There is mechanics, and then there is storytelling. And since the overall goal of the gaming is "the most fun, for the most people", and you have the mechanics on lock, the solution probably lies in storytelling. If your character is only a collection of enemy obliterating traits, you are not maximizing the potential of the medium.

  • What is your character's fatal flaw?
  • Are they brash? Unable to tolerate evil? Blind to their own limitations? Prone to rage?
  • What is their side focus? Do they love to charm & control antagonists? Are they obsessed with shiny rocks, geology, bling-bling? Are they prone to waiting until every kind of attack is perfect, before unleashing their furious, calculated, and devastating assault? Are they prone to hubris? Shy to a fault?
  • Who in the party are they most protective of?
  • What additional conflict can you concoct (personality internal or even culturally external)?

Mechanically, you may be safe, so now you have the breathing room to develop your character in ways that are perpendicular to your combat ability, while the rest of the party catches up. If you do it right, you'll be entertaining not just yourself, but your group as well.


Just as a side note, I don't know about you, but I get bored with combat when there is no major risk to my character. If I take no damage in a campaign, something has broken. That's great for your party members, because they're still in a risk zone. They will still bleed & feel pain with their characters, don't take that away from them. Now you just have to figure out how to put your own character back into risk in the most fun way.

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