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three out of the four players in my group are munchkins so maintaining balace is one of my main problems. I have my own catalouge of anti muchkin tactics but I'm losing ground, pretty soon it is going to degenerate into an arms race. I am looking for some new ideas.

Keep in mind that two of my players are munchkins of legend. They are both souless powergamers and one is a rules lawyer. They have no morals so don't exppect that to phase them.

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It would help if you gave us details on what their characters are like, so we could design specific anti-them tactics.

Really, the only effective solution I've seen is "If you minmax, you're out of the group" but I'll make one suggestion: if they are minmaxers (there are different kinds of mucnhkins, IMO) then constantly hit them with situations where they have to rely on the skills they Min-ed.

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Close the door and dim the lights. We're going to discuss out-right heresy.


Tell them.

Tell them how you feel and what you expected to get out of the game that you are not getting. Listen to what they have to say in the same vein.

After that... Take whatever action is appropriate. Tell them goodbye and sayanara. Abdicate your position as storyteller to one them and let them run the game world and deal with the crap while you have fun roleplaying. Enter the world of the power gamer and explore the possibilities; go ahead, the dark side is nice and cool.

You see, there are a thousand ways to slam a player in the game when you're the ST. There are a thousand ways to do it as another player and even a couple that an ST, in the interests of impartiality, cannot use. Therein lies the road that does not lead to a troupe, rather a conflict.

Now, having said all of that, if you actually enjoy the conflict and are simply looking for a few ways to escalate the conflict then stand by 'cuz there are some serious masters of the fine art of the shaft inhabiting this forum.

Munchkins are only players in the wrong game.

Let's face it, we're playing a game where a starting character can kill Manhattan Island, London or Tokyo faster than anybody could respond. What's munchkin got to do with it?

[This message has been edited by Wizard (edited 06-25-2001).]

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no way!!! talk to them? dude are you serious? isn't that like a breakage of the unwritten laws of gaming?

but seriously yeah tell them. explain how if they want to grow more powerful they have to stay in YOUR good graces. and subtle hints about withholding pizza that night couldn't hurt.

also remind them that no matter how tough they think they are you can always make someone tougher to smak them down....repeatedly.

[This message has been edited by Sidious (edited 06-25-2001).]

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o answer 2 questions at once.

First a profile of the players. THe first stumbling block is a TK invisible density decrease nova with enough stealth to walk through grand central station, the other one is the real problem, he used a combination of synergy tactical prodigy, commanding presense and analyze weakness to add aroud 15 - 25 dice to almost every action.

In regards to wizards point they understand what they do fucks me up but they don't care. I lost all hope of reasoning when I heard them burst into spontaneous gales of maniacle laughter from just looking at each others characters. They also understand that I control the universe in which they play but have a players union of sorts to balance things out.

THe only proof that they have souls is that they toned down their characters for this more intrigue ladden game.

they pay in part for the pizza and are strong enough to hurt me

[This message has been edited by shrimpus (edited 06-25-2001).]

[This message has been edited by shrimpus (edited 06-25-2001).]

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Munchkins eh? Sounds like a serious infestation. Try running a session where they have to use their social skills and where they can't use their powers EG Hired by a man to find his daughter and persuade her to come back home...no telepathy or domination allowed, he wants her to come back of her own free will. All the players have is their wits...they don't even know why she left.

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Munchkins ?

Well, I was going to say Wizard is right, but if talking definitely won't work...

Stheno's anti-munchkin tactics:

1 Know the rules better than they do. Even if it says different in the book, you're the GM. You decide how it works. Min-maxers can really be hurt by cross-matched skill rolls.

2 Don't direct stories at the characters directly. Direct them at things the characters care about. Their houses. Their cars. That lovely Eufibre outfit they got last week by making a stupidly huge Biz roll.

3 If a character has powers which require actions and rolls (such as the second one you mentioned), always have them roll initiative, always make them pay the quantum, and always, always have them use their action and make the die roll where you can see it. This tends to reduce the wonderful 25 extra dice on every roll quite quickly...and I can't see those powers achieving such a huge result.

Synergy requires more than one character acting together.

Tactical prodigy is limited to tactical situations, and analyse weakness, well, just wait till they botch it.

The other technique for dealing with characters like this, and the one I prefer, is building your stories around what I call "character interaction tasks" rather than "character killing NPC tasks".

Getting places requires talking to people, making friends and so on.

Making combat counterproductive tends to deal with the worst aspects of munchies.

Even more fun, run a session without dice. It's not easy, but it's lots of fun - just ask the Ranger.

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I'll be honest, I only rarely take the ST chair in Aberrant. On the other side of the coin I have more than a few years playing and running Champions, which is a min-maxer's wetdream. From what you're describing you may not be able to make simple changes to the scenario as Ranger described. As good as the suggestion is, were I your problem players I would do whatever I wanted in the belief that I had the power to ensure no one knew what I had done later. Or, even if they did know, I had to the power to handle them by either beating anything they could throw at me or just diappear in a way they could never find me. None of this is true since you run the universe but that doesn't stop them from believing it.

Now, Solution-R-Us. Be advised both solutions have the same outcome as I will specify later:

1. Let them commit whatever silly offense against sensibility that they feel like. Toss a couple of gee-whiz look at the pretty lights kind of things for them to work on. What you use as distraction, and we're talking long term distraction of a couple of weeks or months (game time), is not important. While all of this is going on and distracting them, you are slowly introducing a threat of global proportions. An insidious alien threat would be good. Not Star Trek Kingons or anything comprehensible like that. More like invasion of the body-snatchers. Maybe the Borg before they were watered down in First Contact and Voyager. You know, basic elemental forces that cannot be reasoned with and are too big or encompassing to be defeated. Body snatchers are actually better than Borg if you're going to swipe directly from source material and not adapt or refine.

Solution 2 is a planet killer threat. An asteroid the size of Texas isn't bad but instability in the sun is better. Personally, I would have the mega-asteroid impact Mars (doesn't directly affect Earth so the clairsentients are out in left field on this one) and have it rip the planet apart. As an entire planet goes missing, the balancing act of the solar system is altered. This game is cinematic at the core, we're going to mess up Earth badly as it's orbit wildly swings alternately both nearer and farther from the sun. Now we get to play out end of the world.

What's the point of all this conflict ultimately since it allows your problem players to be at their worst and still be looked up to as possible heroes? You're destroying the world.

Think about that and savor it.






As the ST, you already know how this comes out. The world we know is gone. Maybe everybody dies and the game ends as the last human vanishes into that long night. Maybe it ends with humanity springing to the stars. It doesn't matter, the game has run it's course and the final chapter is written. Play it well, enjoy it, offer opportunities for your players, including the power gamers to get whatever it is they get out of the sessions and then the curtain falls.

Afterwards, if you decide to start a new game of Aberrrant and continue as a story-teller; play a Directive game and use their old characters as antagonists. Or make a list of house-rules on what is and is not allowed. Cap stats at a specific limit. Disallow some powers, whatever you feel would make a good game.

I realize this is all a bit extreme but it seems to me that the problem is neither you or you power gamers. The problem is each member of your troupe, including you, wants to play a different kind of game. Unless you all can reach some sort of compromise it's going to kill the game off anyway. This way is just faster.

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To all who read this, understand that my own players call me the Devil.

Having let one group of players run amuck, my answer would be to just say NO!

At creation, start with these and remember to smile:

"Sorry, this character wouldn't fit into this game. I can't tell you why, because that would spoil the suprise."

"No, this power doesn't fit into the direction I want the game to go."

"This character will be no fun for me to Storytell. Can't you create someone who is interesting?"

"Oh, I see. There is an obvious flaw in this power. Thank you for pointing it out to me. It can't 'really' do that. I am changing it to work this way."

"Thanks, this is a great idea for a villian you might face. Could you make a character that isn't so one-dimensional?"

After character creation, try this:

"Oh, but the power works this way. If you had a question about this effect, I wish you had brought it up at character creation. Don't worry, it will still be fun." (use this on the TacProg/Synergy/Analyze Weakness freak. His powers don't stack, they augment. He can use the one that give the most successes. Sorry, but the don't add. This is just my opinion, but your players sound like heartless twits.

"No, he can see you, and I am not going to tell you how. Maybe you missed something."

"Yes, he gets back up and comes at you again. How many levels of damage was that? Man, he looks hurt and pissed." Have someone using Mirage on them and make the rolls to resist in secret. Since they can't roleplay and you seem to want to, this should be acceptable. If you are cruel, have them fight each other and think they are fighting someone else. If they kill one another, so be it. They can't blame you, they made the rolls. To do this, stage back the combat a round. Their actions in one round are played out in the next.

I think you get the idea. In all reality, you should find another group. Remember, this is a hobby and we do if for fun. If it isn't fun, your doing something wrong.

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In my campaign, I assume that a newly created character is passable of modification for the first or second adventure. If I see a power or combination of powers that is too powerfull, I modify it, permitting the PG to change it if he dislikes my changes.

We have modified many powers (telepathy, invisibility, ecc...). I think that WW ave done a bed job balancing powers (it seems to me that they get powers from various sources and put them together).

And remember, when a nova erupts, the powers he manifest tends to follow some kind of way.

I ask at my players to define how their node affects reality (say, Cestus Pax's node permits him to control kinetic energies), so I can control the powers they buy (say, for Cestus Pax would be silly to buy Shapeshift!). But, of course, thet can be 'munchkinned' too (my node can control reality and time).

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  • 1 month later...

In addition but not exclusion to what everyone else has said, because everyone else has had some great ideas, many of which I advocate, and restating them won't help, I offer you the following;

Just make them own up to the consequences of their actions.

Lob soft-ball opportunities for said players to do some very public, very ugly things. Then have whatever nova/law endforcement group of your choice descend like the wrath of Gawd and make them own up to what they did. Munchkins like to break shit. When they finally topple Pisa, T2ME is sure to get a hair up it's arse about it. Send those little monsters to Bahrain for a few years.



Don't try to run, you son of a bitch. You'll just die tired.

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The way I best deal with the power gamer type is not to let them start with their power gods in the first place.

I play with a couple of would be power gamers, but when they make up thier novas I look at them very carefully and then make them go back to the drawing board, until they find a character that is ok for the power level of the game.

I aply the same standards when they try to buy a new power.

It has worked well in my game so far, you just have to be prepared for them to try to push things, but be fair and consistant and stick to your guns and don't back down.

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  • 4 weeks later...

Well if we are getting in deep here are a few suggestions:

Fuck with their minds. Roll dice behind a screen every time they meet someone new.

When you do roll dice in public count success as being 1-4 instead of 7-10 and don't tell them this.

Have the players meet exact duplicates of themselves created my a munchie villian with the Quantum Construct power (limitation: only existing Novas).

Insist on roleplaying in excruciating detail every mind they read and every computer mainframe the fuck with. (Private sesssion with the player involved - take him out of the room for an hour or so...after a while players will kill him if he reads a mind)

Make skills matter. If the Cyberkinetic wants to mess with a mainframe make him make the engineering rolls. Have a mentalist reading minds make Psychology rolls to figure out what things mean.

Make precogging and postcogging very hazy and chancy things.

For the warriors, remember collateral damage and hand them the bill: "Sure you hit the guy with the Quantum bolt for 60 levels of damage...he got vapourised and the 50 Million dollar research building behind him collasped. Viasoft want to know where to send the bill."

Remember location:

Make them fight in explosives factories and chemical plants where a missed shot leads to BOOM. Fight underwater where fire and plasma are useless and in space where they cannot breath.

If I was these guys enemy I would find out their weaknesses and exploit them. (perhaps an baseline who erupted when they killed his parents?)

Remember the golden rule: Divide and conquer!!! Get them alone and zap 'em.

Illusion, misdirection and deception are your friends. After nuking the president thinking he was Geryon the players should relax the trigger fingers a bit.

Be proactive: fuck them first and hardest, let them spend their time getting out of the nasty situations you put them in and not in fucking with the plot.

Make your players roleplay conversations with everyone instead of making social rolls.

Take everything said at the table in character unles it is directed to you as ST.

Above all, offer them an interesting alternative to the mine's bigger them yours style of gaming and see if they enjoy it. See what they like to do and see what you like to do and try to come to a compromise.

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