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D&D 3E
Help me, I've lost my mind 
22nd-Oct-2004 07:38 pm
Hey, I've been wondering if anyone here maybe able to help me out. I've been running a game for over a year now, and it seems to be running smoothly for right now. But there is one really big glitch in the game. Two of my players have built up so much power already that they are almost completely untouchable. One is a Samurai built out of the Quintessential Samurai from Mongoose Press. This character is broken to an extreme I hadn't thought of. He's actually figured out a way to deal 1800 points of damage in a single strike, and believe me after he explained it I know he isn't lying.
The other character is a Psion, for the most part. Anyone who's read the psionic books can understand that psionics are really broken on their own. Either way, what I'm asking is does anyone have a suggestion on what I can do to balance the game back into everyones favor. By the way the Samurai is 20th level equivlant half-dragon, and the Psion is 21st level human. Any suggestions you could make would be appreciated.
22nd-Oct-2004 06:24 pm (UTC)
Oriental Adventures is by nature Broken. The Quintessential books are even moreso. Oriental Adventures, when used only by itself, and with the assumed very low magic setting, the majority of which should be a Samurai's daisho, it's really not that broken; it's needed to beat some of the stuff you can end up fighting.

My advice, don't let players use more than the core 3 books, and possibly a campaign setting. Letting people mix and match ALL the various books out there gets past the point of insane. If you need advice to, say, kill them...

A couple archers with Axiomatic dragonbane arrows should do the trick to get rid of your samurai. The Psion...hit him with whatever human-bane/alignment weapons you can.

And care to explain that 1800 damage bit? I have a feeling somewhere in there the math is wrong...I've *very* rarely seen damage over 50, I think I've seen it over 100 only once.

Oh, last bit of advice, don't let people use psionics either; in my experience most of the people who do so only break it, they've no interest in just playing an interesting character.

One last last last last bit, Minotaur Crab > Half Dragon.
22nd-Oct-2004 06:59 pm (UTC)
And care to explain that 1800 damage bit?

My money is on incorrectly combined '2x's
22nd-Oct-2004 07:08 pm (UTC)
At a certain point, it just stops being fun. Those two sound like they are there. They need to step into the sunset, one opens a bar and the other becomes king. They have beaten the system, congratulate them on having won the game and be done with it. If they insist on continuing, borrow their character sheets. Photocopy them. Give them back the originals, and take your two copies of each one, change the names, and hit them up with two of themselves. Anything the players can abuse, you can abuse twice, andf make it vorpal to boot.

Which is the other thing. At that power level, every other attack is save or die. Make use of of save or die attacks if you have to fight them. And level and characteristic draining attacks. They may have 200 hit points each, but they only have 18, maybe 20 strength. Look at the shadow in your mm p161. Attacks ignore armor and do 1d6 temporary strength damage. It's unded so it's immune to mind influenceing attacks, and a host of other stuff. And it's CR3, so the players won't get jack for xps for dealing with them. Sure, it's a swing and a kill, but hit the samurai with 10 of these guys and he's losing strength, possibly a lot of it. Alternately, use the shadow as a starting point, but make an exception shadow who is smart, and level him up into something aweful.
23rd-Oct-2004 05:35 am (UTC)
Greater Shadow
22nd-Oct-2004 07:33 pm (UTC)
I'd like to see the explanation for the damage getting that huge too-maybe make it a seperate post rather than replying to each person with it?

I've seen and used stuff from a lot of the books both as things for players and ideas as GM, and I've never come across problems like this, have you actually checked it, 'cos it sounds like a direct cheat to me. I've had a couple of psionic warriors in my games and they've been no trouble, don't know about actual psions.
What's the rest of the group like? If everyone is of similar power level, you can just up the game a notch or two-"right lads, Demogorgon's getting uppity again":> Hell should still be hard for them-etc.
23rd-Oct-2004 05:35 am (UTC)
1,800 in a single strike?

Hmm. At ECL 23?

This I would be interested in seeing. I haven't looked through Quintessential Samurai, but I did have an NPC built up to take out the party munchkin who had an initiative modifier somewhere in the 40s, and would deal an average of 800 damage in that first round of combat.

As for people saying damage over 100 in a single hit is outrageous, I'd heartily disagree. I built a 13th level character for the hell of it (just because someone said someone should play a bear) who, optimally, will deal a minimum of one-hundred-and-something damage per hit (on a charge, mind you).

It's not hard (if you can spam numbers and find multipliers), just not easy unless you've got access to a large number of books (and our group has that).
23rd-Oct-2004 10:22 am (UTC)
See post a few above. I found him sitting in my inbox.
23rd-Oct-2004 01:29 pm (UTC) - Thanks guys, but I need more ideas.
I like alot of the ideas you guys have been suggesting, but the problem is I've done or played in games where we have already done those things. I ran I week ago Friday, and I killed two thirds of the party, but because of a cleric in the group and the psion (rat bastard that he is), no one stayed dead. Everyone was brought back to life almost instantly.
By the way, there power levels aren't to the point were I need to force them to step out. I have the epic level handbook, but those are the only two close to that level. The way I run it, if a character dies and isn't ressurected the player loses one level to a minimum of 12th level. Except for those two who have been in since almost the beginning, everyone else has died a couple of times.
I hold onto all character sheets between game so nothing is being changed, some of my players have copies of their characters so they can plan between games, but I hold onto the primary copies they use, so nothing is being changed.
23rd-Oct-2004 07:01 pm (UTC) - Re: Thanks guys, but I need more ideas.
Level Drain. Level Drain the shiznizzle out of both of them. Failing that, you mentioned the one dude is lawful good...force him to roleplay his alignment some. If he doesn't, strip him of his equipment.

For later, seriously cut some of the book usage. As has been amply demonstrated by some of the above comments, more books doesn't always equal better.

And yeah, making a 20th level fighter straight off the top of your head is a far cry from playing him up to 20th level. In my experience, when you start at level 1 and have to forge your way through, you take feats that you need NOW to stay alive, rather than ones that have neat little trees. Not saying there aren't characters who will do the same, but they're damn well earning it if they're playing through and getting them.

Seriously though...I think your best bet is just resetting your game. I don't make that suggestion lightly either. Above some wise person mentioned that they're past the point of sanity and being reasonable. Is the game fun in the least for any of your *other* players? Seriously, if some dude did 1800 damage in one of our games, I'd quit straight out. That's just fucking ridiculous, in fact, it's POINTLESS. Insane combos aren't, IMHO, the point of the game. We could all sit down with a calculator and a stack of books taller than our entire gaming group and do something similar, most of us wouldn't, and don't, find that fun. Watching a game ruined by other people doing the same is probably even less fun for everyone in your group. Reset, cut down on books, cut down on comboing, cut the Quintessential books - our one (shitty) DM made some Elf NPC come at us with holy, dancing, +5 crystal skirt spikes of speed or whatever the hell they are, plus her regular complement of weapons. It was beyond gay. What these guys are doing is on that same level.

If you don't want to go that far...suck them into a planar whirlpool or some shit. Save the other characters - and the storyline, if they haven't activated their SMITE PLOT AND STORY feat - and go from there. Make them use reasonable characters. Tell them what they did was gay and if they ever do it again you'll bust out your tarasque and give him +5 magic armor of fortification and major energy resistance all and then enchant all his attacks and then start stacking feats on him too - if they can do it, no reason you can't either, and a Tarasque with power attack is and should be terrifying.

If you want to kill them and not seem...like you're targetting them, throw a lot of medium sized dudes their way. 1800 on a strike may be all well and good, but when there are 8 or 9 guys getting hits on you, it won't save you fast enough.
23rd-Oct-2004 10:05 pm (UTC)
a mirror of opposition can help solve some problems. invent some unbreakable spell to put on it. and wreathe it in flame, so they can't throw a cloth over it. then cast a conditional enlarge or bull's strength, or tenser's transformation around the frame.

or give them a deck of many things.
23rd-Oct-2004 11:41 pm (UTC)
This character is broken to an extreme I hadn't thought of. He's actually figured out a way to deal 1800 points of damage in a single strike, and believe me after he explained it I know he isn't lying.

This is an example of breaking Rule #0 for RPGs. The books--all of them, from WotC or Mongoose or the FanCC, are written assuming that the GM will check and simply say "no" to broken combinations. This rule's especially important for PrCs; the darn things were put in the DMG becase DMs are supposed to create their own, not let them in willy-nilly.

Anyway, balacing off the top of my head...

* Characters should have magical items (armor & primary weapons) with an enhancment-bonus value around +1 per three levels. This is fairly agressive, but "sounds about right."

* Sneak Attack, Weapon Focus, Weapon Specalization, et al are good benchmarks for "worth of a feat." If you see a feat or class ability that grants more than a +1 to hit, +2 to damage, or +1d6 to attack in a special circumstance, it's probably too powerful.

At 20th level your average damage per round should be about 110 for a dedicated damage-dealer--someone who has left themselves open to damage in turn and is not much use outside of combat.

OTOH, a well executed plan should be able to create ideal conditions--given someone to flank with, two +4 holy bane (evil outsider) weapons, and some support to keep him alive, a 20th level rogue can average 163 damage per round against a Balor -- with a theoretical max of 672 points of damage. Enough to kill the "challenging" creatures in less than three rounds with time to spare.

My point? Unless your 1800 point munchkin can do that without any preparation against any target he picks and wtih no allies, it's fairly keeping with the high-number flavor of that kind of play--so don't worry about it.

OTOH, if the half-dragon samuri averages a damage of more than 150 per round in common play, he's probably too good and should be tweaked.

If you do decide that the Samuri's too powerful, I'd suggest first checking to see how many books he mixed in. Mongoose and WotC and the rest simply didn't write their products to be used interchangeably within a single character. Start by making your PCs keep the books they use to create their character all from WotC's core books + 1 setting, and your problems should clear up. If that doesn't happen, just tell them the problem and ask if they have any suggested solutions.

OTOH, 20th level's about the celing for the d20 system. Unless everyone really enjoys numbers, it might be time for your PCs to have kids and heirs and a new round of adventures to start.

24th-Oct-2004 06:21 am (UTC)
He's capable of doing the damage on the fly, but as I forgot to mention earlier. He uses his Ki to inflict the damage. The thing about Ki is it's his hit points. So to do the 1800 points of damage, and he's aware of this, it WILL kill him. He has to burn all but one hit point, and he has to take hits aswell to add the damage to it.
Plus the reason all the books are being used is because of the fact that they have done alot of plane hopping. Either way, to the one above about a game reset. That's not a great idea. The characters have earned what they have all the way from level 1.
24th-Oct-2004 04:24 pm (UTC) - Run-away Samurai
You've stated elsewhere a lack of trust in your fellow players to be mature and reasonable, so some of this may not be useful to you. Also, a lot of this is predicated on an assumption that the only player happy about 1800 damage in a round is the player that runs the character; the other players think it sucks, too. If you, the DM, is the only player unhappy with it though, then you may need to find a new group.

If this happened in one of my games, I would simply overrule it. Rule Zero, baby. Too bad for them. It is not reasonable and it is destroying the game. Fix the broken rule and retroactively rewrite the history up to that point. Move on. Unless you think D&D is a game of "let's see what crazy-assed combination we can come up with to make my character obscenely powerful," you have a right to stop and ask your players to be adults. (Actually, I'm curious: How old are you and your players?)

If you're looking for an in-game fix, you have a few options. Most of them are quite forceful and may cause your players to get as pissed off as if you'd just overruled them.

1. Kill the character.

I have a quote: "I've never met a character I couldn't kill." It's not bragging. It's just a fact. As a DM, I have as much power as my creativity allows. I can invent horrific challenges that overpower any character.

It's a reminder to me NOT to kill characters. The trick to being a good DM (most of the time) is to keep characters alive while making players think they're overcoming the impossible.

But if you need to wield the death ray, do it. The player is obviously exploiting the rules for personal gain; you can do the same. Make up an EL35 encounter and have the creature single out the Samurai for some explainable reason. There's always a bigger fish.

2. Weaken the character.

Find some in-game explanation of how some magic or some other thing can change the character so it is reasonably balanced for your game.

Perhaps they travel to a new plane where his chi strike works differently. Whatever rule is breaking your game may not function the same way in the new world. Like Ravenloft's plane, this new plane might be entirely inescapable.

Level drains also work, sorta. You can drain the levels of the prestige class that is breaking things, then tell your players that that prestige class is no longer allowed. This is not a strict interpretation of the level drain rules, though, and will likely cause many arguments.

24th-Oct-2004 04:25 pm (UTC) - Run-away Samurai, part 2
3. Make the character's combat abilities useless.

Fine, so combat isn't fun any more because of one player's twinkery. Run adventures where combat doesn't solve anything. Write some adventures where solutions hinge on proper use of Knowledge (Nobility) and Diplomacy skills, or something like that.

For different reasons, I ran a campaign where the players couldn't just go kill the evil king they were trying to depose and replace. The populace wouldn't back the paladin prince until they'd accomplished a number of diplomatic goals:

a) Get the populace to love the young prince without getting the prince killed by the king.

b) Convince the nobility to back the new prince without getting caught by the king's extensive spy network.

c) Make allies among the military and guild leadership.

d) Show the populace that the king is a really evil man.

Essentially, if they went and killed him, the act would just martyr him to the people who blindly followed their ruler. Besides, the king hid in several magically protected palaces and had a powerful band of diviners defending him from attacks. The party has been sneaking around the city in magical disguise and they've been afraid to use powerful flashy magic or brutal force for fear of catching the attention of the king and his forces.

For epic-level characters, you can do something similar with a minor deity rather than a king. Maybe one of the good deities tips off the party that a "lawful good" god really is a lawful evil god, and has a twisted agenda and using LG followers to do bad things. The other gods can't get involved because of some divine pact and can only work through followers, but if the evil god learns that the party knows his secret, he'll use his considerable divine power to snuff them out. They'll need to enlist the help of other deities, other powerful epic-level NPCs, and get close to the head clerics and paladins of the LG religion and try to convince them of the truth without tipping their hands. Imagine if you were an 18th level paladin and someone told you that your god was really an evil devil or something. Right.

Barring just overruling the players to fix the mistake you made earlier, I think this latter course is the best choice because it is least likely to upset your players. It will also teach them that there are skills more important that fighting.
24th-Oct-2004 04:39 pm (UTC)

permanent level hits? or maybe even cut them off from the rest for a few games and then kill them while they are left on their own? i mean i love my little motoko, but she is kind of a pain and getting boring to play sometimes. hence ducking out. and that 1800 thing im never gonna play. itd be at least 5 more levels untill i do becuae of all the feats and pre-recs.

wait till you see my next guy. a half orc barbarian who has the personality of a suave creole/southern gentille with a love for the females -=giggle=-
25th-Oct-2004 11:25 am (UTC)
Can hardly wait to see this new one when Motoko goes bye-bye. Either way, you need to be at next game because I have something interesting planned. (And I'm very much stressing the interesting idea because I think it's funny.)
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