A few months ago I was invited to play in a Pathfinder campaign by the author of this blog. After some discussion I elected to play a fighter, and not having played Pathfinder before I did a little research into the system. In my journey of discovery through the various forums and blogs, I came across a discussion about character creation. It was the standard sort of thing really, with a lot of posts about min-maxing statistics, and how to get the biggest bang for your buck during character creation.
One poor brave soul had the temerity of asking; why they had to or max out every stat possible? Can’t they have fun with an average or above average character?
The answer was along the lines of ‘NO! If you have an average character you will die!’
Wow. That was intense.
But will your character die? Will your games master (GM) summon a greater demon of ego and superiority as soon as he sees your character sheet to smite you both?
Well in my opinion if he does me might be a bit of a douche.
As a generalisation roleplaying games, and Dungeon and Dragons/ Pathfinder players in particular can be split in two groups; Gamers and role players. Most players will fall somewhere in the middle, however some go to one or the other extreme.
In my example of the players on the forum we have a player who was happy to make do with whatever they created and the other that had to have the very best character all the time. Not only did they have differing opinions, but in my opinion the power gamer was very aggressive in their response. In my experience power gamers who min-max to the extreme are usually arrogant and petty; they seek the largest share of treasure, try and resolve confrontations with violence and can become disruptive when the spot light is on other players.
To be clear I am not saying that just because you choose or even like to roll a die that this makes you a bad role-player. Most games have systems, and to play the game you must also follow the technical aspect of the game. No, I am describing power gamers.
When you have players like this in a party they can clash with GM’s and other players alike. While the other players are concentrating on a plot twist and following up leads, the power gamer becomes bored as there is no one for their character to kill, or dominate. At their worst they are domineering bullies, at their best these gamers slip into a bored stasis who don’t interact unless there is combat.
Basically they have ego problems. I don’t know if it is too much or too little, but they need to spot light to be on them. This sort of behaviour can be a drain on both players and GM’s alike, and has killed more games than Conan the Cimmerian killed Picts. Good role-players are invested in the story and their place in it, they add to the world and the story. They seek alternatives to problems, and do not have to constantly resort to violence to get results. Also it is important that each player, including the GM has a share of the spot light.
Thanks John for your thoughts, please check out his movie blog over at Wine, Ink, Sweat, and Fears.
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