These are your power players.
|Time to meet the monster.|
If There Are Rules, There Are Building Blocks
I'll give you a perfect example of how this situation tends to go. Mind's Eye Society, a group that ran and oversees World of Darkness LARPs, saw that too many players were building the biggest possible combat pools they could, and using these combat powerhouses to essentially take out other characters in a single hit. Instead of addressing things on the small-scale, however, the organization chose to institute a blanket ruling that put a cap on the amount of damage that could be done in a single hit.
|This worked about as well as you think it would.|
The theory was that if you made it impossible to build one-shot wonders, then players wouldn't use violence as a means to solve every situation. That was, of course, not what happened. Instead of building bigger brutes, some players invested in characters who could soak up inhuman amounts of punishment, since there was no cap on how much health you can have. That way they could simply outlast the other characters, tanking as much hurt as they could before walking away the victor. Other players invested in recruiting small armies of NPCs, which meant that instead of having one trigger to pull, a single player could have control of a dozen, highly-trained shooters at a time.
The point is, taking away the ability to build a character that could cave in someone's ribs and rupture their heart with a single punch didn't stop people from building combat monsters. All it did was create a detour, making players use different means to achieve the same end.
And, as a DM, that's what you're going to see if you start arbitrarily telling players who did their homework that they aren't allowed to use certain abilities, or create certain combinations. Because if the player hasn't broken any rules, it can feel like you're punishing them for being able to find, and use, the most effective options available.
Make Your Power Players Work For You
I've said it before, and I'll say it again; every game needs a Session 0. If you have a power player (or two, or three) at your table, you need to sit down with them, and listen to what they're planning on doing. If you have someone who's planned a multiclass shock trooper, capable of smashing through hordes of foes, then you need to ask yourself how that's going to gel with the game you're planning on running, and where that leaves the rest of the table. Because if the group is made up of a face man and two spellcasters, then that sort of muscle might be just what they need. But if there are already two other combat specialists, and you know they won't be able to keep up with the power player's build, then you should try to fix that.
But you don't fix it by just banging a gavel and denying one of your players a perfectly legal option. Instead, talk to them, explain that you appreciate what they're trying to make, and work with them to make something that will let them have fun, but which will help keep the game going in the direction you want, while allowing everyone else to enjoy it, too.
|It doesn't seem that hard, does it?|
Now, there will be some players who get offended that you'd ask them to change their concept because you feel it would be disruptive. Some players may even make a stink that you want them to "play down" to the rest of the table's level. If you present your case in a reasoned, thoughtful sort of way, and that's the reaction you get, un-invite that player to your table until they learn that this game isn't just about them, but that it's a cooperative effort among everyone.
That is the sort of understanding you need to foster, if you want a power player to give you a character that will not only do the job they were built for, but help build up the rest of the table at the same time. It takes skill, time, and dedication to learn how to match the right options together in order to build a powerful PC. But being able to do that without overshadowing anyone else, that takes cooperation, care, and more than a little help from the person behind the screen.
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