24
\$\begingroup\$

This is my first campaign as a GM and it is going really well but I have been having trouble with a player. This player is a GM of another campaign that I am playing in and in that campaign he has a God complex. (He makes insanely powerful NPCs/Gods that were his previous characters in other campaigns. They steal kills almost all the time and are always saving our PCs.)

Anyway, he is a part of my campaign and because he's a DM he knows how to break a character, which is unavoidable because he knows the rules. There have been instances though of where he'll metagame, peek over the DM screen, start describing certain scenarios, and so on. I have recently found out that this player has been looking up items and monsters during gameplay.

I've talked to him about it before but it keeps happening. We've played sessions where he couldn't make it and has gone a lot smoother. I don't want to kick him out, but its getting to the point where I and some of the players aren't having as much fun.

\$\endgroup\$
  • 10
    \$\begingroup\$ Hi RDW, and welcome to the site. Check out our tour to see how we work, and when you reach 20 reputation, you can join us in Role-playing Games Chat. I'd recommend you read over the Five Geek Social Fallacies because of how it relates to the notions you're dealing with around removing someone from the group. \$\endgroup\$ – doppelgreener Mar 12 '17 at 16:23
  • \$\begingroup\$ Reminder: comments are for clarifying content, not posting small or incomplete answers. Prior comments containing answers or responding to them have been removed. \$\endgroup\$ – SevenSidedDie Mar 13 '17 at 14:53
  • \$\begingroup\$ If you have a new question, please post it using the Ask Question button rather than adding a second question to your original question. (However, bear in mind that idea generation is off topic here, so requests to just “throw out there” advice or ideas on homebrewing is not the kind of question RPG.se accepts. For that you may want an RPG discussion forum, which have looser topic rules.) I have removed the second question. \$\endgroup\$ – SevenSidedDie Mar 29 '17 at 6:26
  • 1
    \$\begingroup\$ What do you mean by "steals kills" in D&D 5e. This is not a video game. (PS the last person who peaked over my DM screen was told in No Uncertain Terms to leave. End of sentence.) \$\endgroup\$ – KorvinStarmast Jun 8 '17 at 1:49
  • \$\begingroup\$ I know you probably didnt mean this literally, but he doesn't actually "peak over the DM screen" right? \$\endgroup\$ – user27327 Jun 8 '17 at 2:33
29
\$\begingroup\$

Use visual reminders

Sometimes, a player/DM like this only needs a visual cue that you've discussed in advance to remind them that they're engaging in behaviour you've previously talked about. Since this person is open and receptive, but keeps falling into habitual metagaming, start using a visual cue to remind them.

I recommend a pack of playing cards. Just tell him/her that the cards are meant to serve as a reminder to try to pull back the metagaming. Every time they start, just hand them a card. If the person is as receptive as you said, they'll check themselves immediately.

After time, this will no longer be necessary. You'll have effectively trained them out of a bad habit. Be sure to reward said behaviour with some cold beer to reinforce the change. :)

This advice comes from a lot of experience dealing with players who used to DM and actually falling into this same habit myself. Visual cues can be very subtle, and very powerful.

\$\endgroup\$
  • 9
    \$\begingroup\$ Cards, or you know, a water spray, like for cats \$\endgroup\$ – Yotus Apr 12 '17 at 6:20
11
\$\begingroup\$

I had a player that did exactly the same thing a few months ago and while I can't guarantee it'll work, I'll describe what I did and hopefully it will.

The player in question was constantly setting things up very carefully so that it was nearly impossible to figure out that they were breaking something until after they had already done it, and I didn't exactly want to retcon it. What I ended up doing was taking them aside and "rewarding" them for it. The main reason players like to make god-PCs is that they want to be special, and instead of trying to constantly deny them of that, the easiest solution is to let them have it, but in a way that is constructive.

For instance, the player I was talking about from my campaign we ended up incorporating into the plot by making them into a mole for the villain, so the other players inevitably ended up fighting and killing her just before they did the same to her boss. If a PC doesn't work as a PC because they're far too weak or far too strong compared to the others, my first solution is to make them a plot device instead.

Another solution that works well that I've seen is to adjust the power scales accordingly. Above all, don't nerf the player who needs the nerf, because they'll just get pissed off and either loudly complain or just munchkin their way to the top again. Instead, buff all the other players by setting things up so they "just happen" to get better equipment or more opportunities to gain XP that the broken player does not.

Lastly, if that doesn't work, just sit down and talk about putting in some house rules to restore the balance. Remember, balance for the sake of balance is boring, so there's no shame in making the development of house rules a dynamic process to keep the players on their toes.

Above all, throughout any of these solutions, take care to not make the overpowered player feel targeted. Fundamentally, they aren't; these are just measures to make the game more fun for everyone rather than to pick on someone.

\$\endgroup\$
  • \$\begingroup\$ balance for the sake of balance is boring. well said. +1 for that alone (answer has other nice things in it as well) \$\endgroup\$ – KorvinStarmast Jun 8 '17 at 1:51
6
\$\begingroup\$

If your issue is metagameing, poison the meta. I do this to my players all the time. I'll tell them that NPC is super trustworthy, that the BBG is weak to acid, I'll add extra monster tokens to the combat board and tell the players they are invisible. Usually they only have to be taken by the shyster NPC once or twice before they realize that the only real information is what the PCs have learned. Done right, this isn't even antagonistic to your players. I flat out tell my PCs what I'm doing. "So-and-So is a demi-god, but I'm probably lying about that..." This can be fantastic fun as you spin horribly, obviously, inaccurate tales about whats going on in game. And everyone catches on that metagaming is more dangerous than not metagaming.

But that's not your problem.

You have someone who wants to "win".

As an "experienced player" and a "GM" he should know bloody well that peering over the screen is tantamount to fudging dice rolls, AKA Cheating. I've had a few various cheaters in my games over the last 15 years or so of GMing and I've pretty much standardized response. I pull them aside as soon as there is a place to pause the game and give the following spiel:

"Hey, I just saw you do X. This is against both the spirit and the letter of the rules of the game. This makes me think that this game isn't quite right for you. I run my games to create a cool story, and that includes making things hard for you players. Your victory is way more cool when you had to fight and struggle and even fail a bit to get there. And I need all of my players working together to make that story cool. You seem to prefer to be the solo, "all shall tremble before me" style play. And that's Cool. But it doesn't fit in my game. If you want to play as a Team, and be awesome as a Team, share blood, sweat, tears, and victory as a Team, then we can work things out. Otherwise, you might want to find a different game that fits your play style better."

I give them the choice. About half the time, they decided that the idea of Teamwork and cooperative storytelling sounded worthwhile. Half the time they decided that the game wasn't for them and quit on their own. Almost always though everyone was happy with the final solution.

Good Luck!

\$\endgroup\$
3
\$\begingroup\$

One thing I've found useful in D&D-type games is to include an occasional "minigame" where people are playing something other than their standard characters. PCs have had their bodies stolen and been turned into small animated toys, or they're dreaming about a battle that happened a thousand years ago and each player gets to play one of the combatants, or a wizard gives them mental control of some powerful monster, etc. etc. Then the next session, once they've resolved the minigame, things go back to normal.

Depending on the group, minigames might be effective as a way to let your guy get those powergaming urges out of his system without ruining the rest of the campaign.

Depending on how you build those characters, it can also help encourage teamwork. In the "turned into toys" scenario, each character had major advantages and disadvantages based on the type of toy (e.g. understuffed rag doll could squeeze through tiny spaces, but was very weak) so they really had to work together.

I also use a "shiny point" system as a non-XP-based incentive to please the GM. If you write up a log for one game session, you earn a shiny point. If you do something really nifty that makes for a great game, you earn a shiny point. You can trade in a shiny point for one reroll, or to settle an ambiguous rules call in your favour. (Rather than spend half an hour wrangling about stuff, I can just ask: does this matter enough for the player to spend one of their hard-earned shinies? They decide yes or no, and then we get on with the game.) Shinies aren't terribly powerful in-game but they're a nice little carrot to promote productive behaviour. You might be able to use something similar to encourage a more social attitude to gaming: give him a shiny when he finds a way to collaborate rather than dominate, etc. etc.

But stuff like peeking behind the screen is outright cheating. I'd be saying something like "that spoils people's fun, and we can't keep playing with somebody who does that". (Seconding the recommendation of Geek Social Fallacies, this is excellent and very relevant reading.) In the end, the bad guy is the one who's spoiling everybody else's fun, NOT the GM who kicks him out for it.

\$\endgroup\$
  • \$\begingroup\$ Regarding the rules conflicts - are they automatically resolved AGAINST the player if they don't spend a shiny? \$\endgroup\$ – Weckar E. Mar 13 '17 at 11:15
  • 1
    \$\begingroup\$ If it gets to the point of "do you want to spend a shiny on this?" it probably means the player has already made their argument and hasn't convinced me of their position. That being the case, as GM I'd probably be saying no if they don't give me a new reason to agree - whether that's spending a shiny or something else. It's partly a way of gauging "is this actually important to the player or are they just trying it on?" \$\endgroup\$ – Geoffrey Brent Mar 14 '17 at 11:55
  • 1
    \$\begingroup\$ DnD5e has a somewhat similar system to shiny points built in: Inspiration (PHB p125 and DMG p240). Though it's both less powerful (only grants advantage on certain rolls; and a player either has it or doesn't, no carrying around 5 Inspiration at once) and generally more focused on being a reward for good roleplaying than for good metagame behavior. \$\endgroup\$ – 8bittree Mar 14 '17 at 18:16
1
\$\begingroup\$

It seems like you have a few questions here. I have a few tricks from my own experience as a DM of 20 years, and as a very occasional player.

To deal with out of game knowledge

My favorite way to deal with out of game knowledge is to change aspects. Is your mage who has no way of knowing Trolls are susceptible to fire stocking up on fire spells? Looks like this desert troll is susceptible to ice. If you do this, make sure to point out how they as players could have learned about this ahead of time, and also why specifically the character who was metagaming did not know that fire would work. IE this is why we put points in knowledge skills.

To deal with "peeking" or counting your dice rolls

I like to call for perception checks every now and again when it is not needed. I will even write down the result and use that result next time it is called for. This keeps people from knowing something is up when I call for a check.

Same for rolling dice. Roll a d20 three times, with the knowledge that the second roll is the right one. I have a few different colored dice that makes this easy.

With all this obfuscation, it is important to keep in mind what the players should know. Don't forget to point out things like "you hit him with the fire spell, but it seems to have little effect" or "your mighty blow tears across his ribs, he is struggling to even stand". Otherwise all your trickery could end up just frustrating the players who have good intentions.

Min/max issues

If your player is min maxing and disrupting the balance of the game, change the balance of the game. If they are some raging hulk of a fighter, unstoppable in combat, don't make combat the only thing to do. You can also "split" the group in combat. The NPC hulk of a bodyguard can point at your player and challenge him to a duel, while the rest of the party fights everyone else. This lets your min/maxer test his build, while allowing others to engage in combat.

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

The problem isn't the player

The problem is that you permit this. A player who is a GM peeks over your DM screen? That person knows better! There is one real good way to deal with this (I've dealt with all kinds of cheaters over the years...been playing and DM'ing off and on since mid 1970's):

"Goodbye. You are done. Leave. Come back in an hour or so when you are ready not to cheat." Do not sugar coat this.

Until you are willing to do that, you will not stop having problems with this player. You need to assert that at this table, you are the GM (that is your role) and that person is not the GM, but one of the players (that is their role).

Until you do that, no amount of other advice will solve the problem.

Stand up for yourself. You don't have to put up with this garbage. You can be as diplomatic as you like in your phrasing of this, but what you can't do is be unclear about what you will or will not put up with. Be clear. Leave no room for doubt.

If the other players will not back you in this, then you are in the wrong group of people to be the DM.

I don't want to kick him out, but its getting to the point where I and some of the players aren't having as much fun.

I suspect that they'll back your play.

If they do back you, then you have the chance to discuss your other concerns regarding metagaming. (Lino Frank Ciaralli's tool is a good one).

Further the point that you see the other players not being comfortable with this: bad gaming is not better than no gaming. You as a group are being subjected to some bad gaming. Fix it before you have to turn that into no gaming.

\$\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.