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scotter23

Advice for min/max PC's

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So I have accumulated some advice to this problem but I would love to stockpile all I can.  So... here's the situation:

I have a campaign where we play weekly for about 2 or 2.5 hours a week.  It's been going almost a year now.  We started with Knight-level play.  My PC's are now in the 450 earned XP range and are quite powerful.  But my problem is their character concepts.  Early on I saw evidence of them min-maxing and I worked to tell them about how this system differs from d20 systems, and that pushing a skill or two out isn't necessary.  0 HP doesn't equal death and other things.  But I was told by my "shooty mcshoot face" characters that, "No that IS my character concept... that I'm the BEST shooty mcshoot face in the galaxy!"  *sigh*  OK... whatever makes them happy.  I've put no limitations our house rules in place.  They're free to make whatever they want.  But I now have two issues compounded:

  1. We are at high XP play.
  2. I have hyper-focused, min/maxed PC's in some cases.

So I have things like a mechanic with Int 6, and 5 ranks.  Or a Ranged (Light) guy with Agility 5, 4 ranks of Ranged (Light), and 3 ranks of True Aim.  So... dice pools get SICK and they're getting worse.  Another character has a soak of 6 and defense 3, and just took a rank of Enduring giving him a 7 soak.  (I asked him how much soak do you need?)

So, I understand how to handle high XP play.  This system is brilliant at allowing the GM to tweak and keep up.  However, I would love to know what things you've done in your games for min/maxers, regardless of level.  I have ideas and have gotten feedback but I would love an arsenal at my disposal.  The goal:  Keep things dramatic and challenging while letting them still feel like they're amazing sometimes.

Any thoughts and experiences would be appreciated.  These guys are just where they can handle Formidable checks in their min/maxed areas.  The fact they roll 8 advantage can be problematic too sometimes.  Not once in a while... but all the time.  So, any help is appreciated.  Thank you all!

Edited by scotter23

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Dont have everything they do be in their speciality. If the Mechanic wants a mcguffin dont let the face do the negotiating, make the mechanic do it. Make social encounters where the shooty guy has to be social. Do a conclave of hunters who are going to name the best shooter in the galaxy and have him lose the popularity contest.

You do still want to have them shine sometimes, so give them opportunities to shine in their field. Just dont let them always set things up the way they want.

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8 minutes ago, TheShard said:

First if they are having fun, and your having fun, run with it, who cares?

If its ruining fun then make them balance themselves, run social encounters, deception, stealth, gambling, tests of will like horror stuff, etc.

 

I don't care.  I said... whatever makes them happy.  I'm wanting to challenge them at times even in the moments where they've made themselves uber.  Read the question first.  High level XP play with diversified characters IS different than hyper-focused ones.

 

Edited by scotter23

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18 minutes ago, scotter23 said:

The goal:  Keep things dramatic and challenging while letting them still feel like they're amazing sometimes.

 

  • Do things to occasionally cripple them in their specialty.  If some of them are suped up due to cybernetics, have them get shut down for an entire scene.  The awesome Bounty Hunter with the cyberarms, is probably going to have trouble fighting with both of them hanging limply from his sides for an encounter
  • Provide challenges that they can't use their min/maxed skills on.   If they are especially good at blowing stuff up, have "Stuff gets blown up" as one of the failure conditions.   Their employer absolutely demands a zero body count on this mission.   Or they have to do it QUIETLY.   Or make it look like an accident.   
  • Insert environmental conditions that stack up some serious numbers of setback dice.  These PC's are insanely epic level characters in this universe.  They are the kind of people who walk into "certain death" situations, and come out alive.  Doesn't mean it's supposed to be easy though.  Toss 5+ setback dice at them sometimes.   Why?  Because they are fighting  the bridge of an airship, during a thunderstorm, while 20 wings of TIE's and X-Wings fight around them.  Explosions and flickering light, and gale force winds, making EVERYTHING they do harder.   Make the setback dice factors be cool in concept, but explain that it's why they are having a hard time of this.  If they want to feel awesome, being able to say you won a battle with a Sith Acolyte, while fighitng in a rainstorm, running along the spine of a giant air-skiff, in the dead of night, while a fleet battle takes place above you, on the night of a full lunar eclipse, etc etc, will probably make them feel pretty awesome.   You can even do this for the average fight.  Don't just have them fighting a group of thugs.  Have them fighting the group of thugs, at 3 miles above Coruscant, between 2 speeders, jumping back and forth between them as cross traffic darts in and out  between them.   Sure, it sounds awesome, and will likely stroke their egos quite well, but it's also hardly an easy place to have a fight. :D   
  • Start having the "harder" stuff for them, automatically include Challenge dice.   Not only when you flip a destiny point, but just there is at LEAST 1 red dice in every dice pool they roll.   Or at least when it's got a chance for something bad to happen.  
  • Toss Rivals at them with stats equal to, or exceeding their own, in significant numbers.    You could introduce a rival NPC party that are basically just as powerful as these guys, and have been hired to take them out.  See how well they react to NPC's with just as much lethality as them.

  •  

 

That's all I can think of at the moment, but that's where I'd start, given your goal.

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More targets than they have the ability to address  in a given round.

Reinforcements. Reinforcements. Reinforcements.

Custom made adversaries , heavily armed, and statted out with useful Talents ie Lethal Blows, Enduring, Durable, 2nd Wind, etc.

Limited or no downtime in between encounters so that they can't recover strain and have a limited ability to even do medical checks .

Lots of single roll combat resolution checks in between other encounters to further stress supplies and the ability to recover . 

Aggressive use of destiny points as well as any opportunity to add challenge dice along with aggressive interpretations of despair results . 

Be willing to let the dice kill them.

Edited by 2P51

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Using the environment to create challenges has worked very well for me when dealing with high-XP players.  

Using time limits has also been a great boon to me.  Sometimes it's not whether the task can be done, but how quickly and effectively.  

They say, "hit 'em in the dump stat" - to me that's the least clever solution on its own, but it's part of a well-rounded story.   One could present the story in a way that the gunslinger has to swim across a raging river or the slicer has to seduce the heiress to get terminal access.  

I'll echo the sentiment of "if it ain't broke, don't fix it" in regards to everyone's fun at the table.  Your players have built characters to do the things they like, so catering to that is a wise move on your part - like you said, keep them happy.  

 

 

 

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Watch the oceans movies again. Those characters are always split up, facing challenges they're not capable of handling while the specialist is guiding them through Comlinks.

If there are multiple objectives to achieve and not enough time to do them in sequence then they need to split up. Once they split it's much easier to challenge them.

But you can then have the objectives tailored to their specialties too, the shooty mc shoot face gets 8 groups of guards to kill while the tech is having a Slicing encounter and the others are bluffing the local Moff

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Couple of other ideas:

 

  • Add npcs they need to protect so they can't just kill the bad guys at their leisure. 
  • For the stacked mechanic lead them away from easy to get "parts are us" and make them do challenging repairs with substandard or improvised parts increasing the difficulty
  • Never give them one nemisis at a time.
  • Add multiple objectives. Sure you need to take down the Boss, but can you do it while saving the hostages, parting the crowd, and disarming a bomb at the same time?

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I always like big action movie scenes in RPG's, and high level minmaxers can probably pull that stuff off. Don't let them do things when it's ideal, have them do things in the worst conditions you can imagine.

Don't have a fight in a cluttered hallway, have a fight with a guy while hanging from the side of an air car speeding through the lower levels of Nar Shadda, whipping around corners and through washing lines. Sure would be nice to have a harness like the other guy. If someone falls, then have them turn over a lightside point to land in a dumpster or catch a conveniently placed and springy power cable.

Don't have the hacker, sorry slicer, do his thing while he's comfortably on his ship with a bottle of dew and some cheetos, have him do it in a dingy warehouse where someone he hates is holding a gun to the head of someone he cares about and a timer is ticking down and the badguy's minion keeps slapping him to distract him (the revenge later will be extra sweet).

The pilot doesn't always get to use the group's tricked out ride, he has to fly a half functioning jalopy that's been planet bound for years because someone's hidden a fortune in Star Wars equivalent Diamonds in it's frame and they don't have time to cut it up here becausetheenemy'scomingightnow! Every point of hull trauma is going to be thousands of creds of diamonds spilled out into space.

The mechanic has to fix an engine in the middle of re-entry, and he'd better do it fast because it's getting awful hot in here.

 

They really are the stars of their own story, so think big.

Edited by Spatula Of Doom

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Min/Maxing makes for boring characters. Boring characters make for a bored GM. There is the whole "as long as he is having fun" argument but if his idea of fun makes the game boring for the GM then he is technically ruining it for everyone; if the GM isn't happy with the game, then things will go downhill fast.

That said, if you want to deal with over powered PCs then stack the odds against them. Hit them hard with super strong adversaries designed to take advantage of their weaknesses (hit their Strain :P ), throw lots of reinforcements at them, have enemies use talents and qualities to make them more dangerous (lethal blows, vicious, etc.) Put them up against force users with the basic lightsaber from the EoTE core book (the one with breach :D ).

In the F&D book they suggest giving Inquisitor characters two initiative slots, you could try doing that with one of your Nemesis characters... one of your nemesis characters armed with a lightsaber with breach and lethal blows :P

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5 hours ago, scotter23 said:

So I have accumulated some advice to this problem but I would love to stockpile all I can.  So... here's the situation:

I have a campaign where we play weekly for about 2 or 2.5 hours a week.  It's been going almost a year now.  We started with Knight-level play.  My PC's are now in the 450 earned XP range and are quite powerful.  But my problem is their character concepts.  Early on I saw evidence of them min-maxing and I worked to tell them about how this system differs from d20 systems, and that pushing a skill or two out isn't necessary.  0 HP doesn't equal death and other things.  But I was told by my "shooty mcshoot face" characters that, "No that IS my character concept... that I'm the BEST shooty mcshoot face in the galaxy!"  *sigh*  OK... whatever makes them happy.  I've put no limitations our house rules in place.  They're free to make whatever they want.  But I now have two issues compounded:

  1. We are at high XP play.
  2. I have hyper-focused, min/maxed PC's in some cases.

So I have things like a mechanic with Int 6, and 5 ranks.  Or a Ranged (Light) guy with Agility 5, 4 ranks of Ranged (Light), and 3 ranks of True Aim.  So... dice pools get SICK and they're getting worse.  Another character has a soak of 6 and defense 3, and just took a rank of Enduring giving him a 7 soak.  (I asked him how much soak do you need?)

So, I understand how to handle high XP play.  This system is brilliant at allowing the GM to tweak and keep up.  However, I would love to know what things you've done in your games for min/maxers, regardless of level.  I have ideas and have gotten feedback but I would love an arsenal at my disposal.  The goal:  Keep things dramatic and challenging while letting them still feel like they're amazing sometimes.

Any thoughts and experiences would be appreciated.  These guys are just where they can handle Formidable checks in their min/maxed areas.  The fact they roll 8 advantage can be problematic too sometimes.  Not once in a while... but all the time.  So, any help is appreciated.  Thank you all!

You mention a soak of 6 like it is a problem. A starting character with cheap armor can start with a soak of 6 (brawn 4 , or 3 with droid, and padded armor) Def 3 isnt that unusual. An armorer from keeping the peace can start with a soak of 7 with defense 2 ( or at least 2 sessions in). Also having 5 ranks and 4 agility while good isnt game breaking , if they are that good in combat, that character jjst made himself the number 1 target.  A Nemesis or 2 with similar statz and adversary 3 along with a couple of rivals and 2 large 5 or 6 member minion groups should do okay. Also anything with a soak of 10 plus (hutt) should be hard to take down. My group had a tough fight with an animated tree (adversay 2) along with a sith (adversary 2 also) gave my group a run for their money and we are similar xp.

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I have GM'd a game that has been going so long our highest experienced character is sitting around effectively 1700 earned. Some of the characters have been min/maxing since the start and we had quite a few issues at some stages because of this, especially since not all characters were combat oriented, so in order to deal with the characters that were 11 soak, 6+ defence or cortosis you had to throw in things that could one shot other PC's. Similarly there are PC's who put out 20-30 damage with breach so in order to make something strong enough to take a hit other characters would not even be able to hurt it. Splitting the party is one way of dealing with this but honestly it is one of my least favourite methods as quite often in those big climactic moments you want the party to be side by side fighting together, also splitting the party up can slow down the narrative, so although it is good for making the most out of each players strengths/weaknesses it can become annoying to the PC's if done over and over again and is not always the best solution.

Three of the most helpful and simple tools you have are red, setback dice and time restraints. Firstly as already mentioned in this thread red dice can always cause havoc and the more creative you get with your despair the more fun everyone has. Secondly setback dice can become surprisingly helpful (although they can also prove to be fickle). For instance in one campaign the crew found themselves on Aurea, this was a campaign with almost no combat although since I didn't want to be mean to the combat characters I had the odd bit of stress relief. One such encounter I thought would be a walk in the park was against a flock of Aurean Vultures straight out of Sons of Fortune. What made this interesting was that it was in the middle of the day in a desert, so it was stinking hot, the vultures were sweeping down from above so the PC's had the sun in their eyes, they were fatigued as they had to get up really early and had been really busy up until that point and the PC's were driving on a skiff. By the time all the environmental factors were taken into account the PC's without any resistance to heat, brace etc. were rolling up to 6 black dice. Furthermore the vultures were not targeting the PC's directly but the skiff they were on trying to tip them off. So the encounter became a tower defence style race to kill the vultures before they took down the skiff. Amusingly even though some of the party members could roll 7 yellow dice (with talents etc.) the black dice did work that day and although they normally would have taken out the group of rivals built for 100exp characters in maybe 2 rounds, 8 rounds later the skiff was crashing into the sand in the middle of the desert.

My number one piece of advice is creative encounter design. I find it helpful to think of the best encounters in video games, rarely the best fights are simple stat checks where the two groups use all their skills and sit there wailing on each other until one drops. Generally the best fights are the ones that require the characters to be creative and think on their feet. For instance one encounter there was a 500xp Nemesis (which was around half the PC's at that time) who had limitless swarms of mindless remotes with improved bodyguard (not to mention they had a host of ways to annoy the PCs). Trying to hit her repeatedly with standard attacks would have been futile as the remotes would just keep jumping in front and take the hit, however blast weaponry could still trigger hurting her, you could stop the flow of the droids into the room limiting her supply for a short time, she controlled the droids using a collar on her neck which could be sundered, etc. The point is she was not that strong herself however the fight was more about how you fought not how strong you were. Similarly think of the environment, interesting areas with multiple ways to interact with things; cover, computer terminals, ray shield controls etc. always add layers of depth to a fight and often allow the PC's to fight things that would normally be beyond their means like tanks. Having multiple objectives in an encounter as mentioned prior especially when there is a time limit is always a fun thing to do, you can use it to split the party or you could use it to force the PC's into lose/lose narrative decisions which can be really fun especially when playing with people's obligations or morality. One thing I would say to be careful about when creating more strategic fights though is make sure it is still flexible and there is more than one way to go about it as some times the PC's will just completely miss how to deal with a situation leaving them in a massive hole (a mistake I have made in the past).

Edited by Storn
grammar

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18 hours ago, korjik said:

Make social encounters where the shooty guy has to be social. Do a conclave of hunters who are going to name the best shooter in the galaxy and have him lose the popularity contest.

I'm suddenly have visions of a bounty hunter swimsuit competition.   "And next up ... Mr. Mandalore!"

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I'm a little late to the party, but one strategy that works well for min-max players (of which in my standard group of six plus me, I have two) is to rob them of their mechanical benefit, but without penalising people who built more rounded/less focused characters: the old idiom of "fight smarter, not harder", instead of throwing something purely mechanical at them, adjust difficulty on how well they describe what they are doing.

For example; I have a literal murder-hobo in the group, first thing: I disarmed all the characters - I literally wouldn't let them through spaceport security with their very, very overpowered, very illegal weaponry or illegal special forces tier armour, I did this intentionally to prevent them shooting their way through everything I had planned (a university heist). Then; next stop, when trying to get through the security checkpoint into the university I had the PC's, on the spot, individually create a reason for why they were heading into the restricted sections of the research labs, timing each one and adjusting difficulty on 1) how quickly they created a reason, 2) how much conviction they said that reason with and 3) how plausible the reason was [an superbuff (brawn 5) Aquilash geneticist? I think not].

My murder-hobo froze up because OOC he had literally stated during the planning phase of this heist he was going to shoot through everyone, in spite of me raising the concern that attempting such a tactic in a public place on a city world like Denon was both likely not the greatest idea, nor exactly feasible unless the man wanted to become the most wanted criminal this side of the leaders of the rebel alliance.

Another strategy you can adopt is simply play to the whole party's weaknesses: when GMing for a group of six like I do its not always feasible, but for the more standard group of four? They should have at least one area where no one in the party is overly focused. Attack that and attack it hard. The players who min/maxed hard will kick themselves and hopefully play more rounded next time around.

Edited by BipolarJuice

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