I do most (well, all) of my gaming online. Unfortunately, that means most people reading this (five people and counting) are my players. So when I mention shit they’ve done, they’ll probably read it, let me know they’ve read it, ask if I’m referring to them, lodge complaints, etc. This is fine as long as they don't drag it into the comments section (or give a running commentary without any context on what they’re reading, let alone what parts they’re referring to, yes I’m looking at you). Nor am I surprised – even before they were posting “Hi Ettin!” in all my goddamn threads on /tg/ they were “stumbling across” them on the WotC forums.
But this time, I’m taking a breather from poking fun at the usual suspects and saying something about powergaming, because it only applies to two people who don’t read this shit.
My views are more complicated than I can be bothered explaining right now, but basically, I don’t mind it as long as you don’t cross the line,
It’s a very vaguely-defined line, and it varies from person to person, but I can tell you the usual triggers that set little alarm bells ringing in my head:
- Trying to pass off rollplaying advice as roleplaying advice. If someone is trying to make an archivist with a certain theme (that isn't "I want to be powerful" and probably even if it is, too) in mind, cleric builds copy-pasted from CharOp are only going to take you so far.
- Any character sheet which is obviously 100% crunch and 0% fluff. I don’t care if you’ve gone crazy with splatbooks and made a character which does hundreds of damage to certain creature types a round or whatever, as long as your backstory is better than “my Saint once saved an orphanage from a paragon undead balor, or something”.
- An “it’s just a name, nothing more, hurr bi durr” attitude towards "prestige classes". I don’t care what you take, but if you want one with fluff that doesn’t fit at least bother to do something about it. Hell, I’ll write it.
- Similarly, don’t cry if you have to roleplay taking it. Thralls of Demogorgon don’t just wake up one morning and pull their devotion and powers out of their arse, you know.
- Sometimes, certain words or phrases. Partial list: Referring happily to your character as “so powerful”, “borderline overpowered” etc., the words “build”, “min/maxed” and “Gatorade”, wanting to use the game to “playtest” homebrew material, complaining about losing spell progression, complaining about having to roleplay... it depends on the person and their intent.
Things that are not necessarily powergaming in and of themselves but can be very irritating:
- Treating the Monster Manual like a Big Bumper Book of Races. Playing cool-looking races is okay. Playing races because they work well with your class is okay if you don’t overdo it. Trying to play a giant on a pirate ship, what the hell.
- Splatbooks. I actually allow pretty much anything that’s WotC material if it’s run by me first (and will at least consider 3rd–party stuff), but for some reason people keep either forgetting or misreading the “run by me first” part. I’m not even sure exactly how you can take that to mean “it’s okay to show up with an Archivist/Shadow Sun Ninja/Champion of Gwynharwyf elf paragon, and yes, I know that doesn’t make any sense.”
- Asking for flaws. No, fuck you.
Seriously though, like I said, I’m not that picky. I’ve let most of these slide a few times, and I am much more lenient (read: hypocritical) towards those I know and trust, such as myself. Just treat roleplay as something other than a formality and we're good. (And I recognise my playstyle isn't the only way to play, but in my games you better get used to it.)
Oh, and the bard? Yeah, fuck that guy.
Let's end this post with something new: A competition Someone suggest some ways to beef up the bard a little and I’ll draw (and/or post) requests for the best ones. Comments page is fine, but I accept other forms of communication. Try for balance, but I’m not picky as long as it’s cool. I’m talking defeating enemies with The Power of Rock and such, here. (It doesn’t have to be rock music. I would also accept a bitchin’ poetry jam.)
Oh, and if you’re a player you have to say “Hi Ettin!”.