In many prior articles I have mentioned that I very much prefer one shot campaigns to long campaigns. One of the major reasons for this is the freedom from consequence that a lot of players feel. It allows them to let loose and be whoever they want to be without worrying about the consequences in the next session. However, there are some serious drawbacks to this. Certain players try to pull and bend the rules to fit their power plays, and then play the game with the intent to break it. There are a lot of ways around this, but I’m going to give you a couple of my favorites, and then the one that I believe is the worst.
Stopping it at Character Creation
The point if first contact is generally the easiest place to stop someone from breaking the game. Be clear up front about what you want from the game and what will not be allowed. For example, I had a player that wanted to be a home brew race. That’s fine! I was okay with that as a GM. He also wanted to be a monk. Awesome! Monks are unique and a lot of fun. Oh, and the home brew race was a Minotaur with +2 Strength, +2 Con and no negatives. On top of that this home brew had natural damage and status resistances to fear, charm, and all non-magical damage. Needless to say it was all positives and no negatives. The easy response here in “no, you’re not allowed to play that pick another race.” But what if you agreed to it?
Keep them in check in game
If someone takes advantage of the game in champion select, how do you counter that in game? I force these players to justify things that are out of character, and ensure that they rigorously follow the rules. The important thing to realize is that you are in charge of the game, not the players. If you don’t want something to happen it won’t happen, but make sure that you have a reason to your rhyme. If a player says, “I want to double backflip to the other side of the enemy and cast a spell in mid air to pull him up and drop him.” Is this realistic for a Minotaur? Well, no. But this is DnD, so why not give it a shot. Go by the rules. Jumping is Athletics, so make that check. If they pass, make a wisdom check (A Monk’s Ki modifier) to cast the pulling spell. Then to land make a Dexterity save. A complex move requires complex rolls, and that is all the justification you need. Stick hard to the rules and those crazier players will be put in their place on their own.
The worst: Lightning from the Sky
So my least favorite method to keep players on check by far is random damage. The method has its place, but those occasions are few and far between. As a GM, you should have a good enough set of boundaries and a reasonable grasp on your players and world to avoid needing to randomly damage your players because they don’t listen. Not only does this come off as unfair to the players, it makes a very weird situation in the game’s lore that the “gods” in these worlds are so focused on this crew that them being a little crazy warrants an act of god. It throws off the entire dynamic of the world and the party.
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