Hey guys, today I’m kicking off another limited series of posts, this time talking about how to best play with different types of players from a player’s perspective. Given the number of GM perspective posts I’ve made on this blog, this should be a neat little experiement.
Today’s topic is all about everyone’s favorite (or least favorite) player archetype: the Powergamer. For the sake of today’s discussion we’ll stick with the definition of a Powergamer as someone who utilizes the mechanics of a game to gain an advantage in a chosen form of conflict found in the game.
I won’t get into discussing issues of personality, as I’ve met many Powergamers who are perfectly fun individuals who get along fine with the team. Likewise, I’ve also met a few that are genuinely not very nice people. Let’s just say that I believe that it is possible to divorce a player’s playing style from their personality, and that GMs ought to be careful that they’re not blaming the first, for what is a flaw of the second.
Moving on, let’s start talking about Powergamers in earnest. Powergamers are mechanically gifted. They have a knack for dissecting a ruleset and finding the little things that bestow them an edge in their chosen conflict. While many Powergamers go for excellence in combat, others may choose to be the best in other fields like social situations or in spellcasting.
I would recommend thinking of these guys as your specialists. Send them to engage in the activities that they have chosen to dominate in, while working with the rest of the team to insulate them from weaknesses that may occur from over-specialization. The thing to remember is that Powergamers sacrifice a lot of everything else to be the best at one particular thing, so they need a support structure, even when they might not act like it.
In managing a team, acknowledging a Powergamer’s ability in his chosen field is important. It gives him something to do, and provides him with the necessary recognition that what he can do is important to the team. By giving him the limelight when his chosen specialty is called upon, he gets to enjoy his character’s abilities while safe in the knowledge that the other players don’t begrudge him of it.
Powergamers are an excellent addition to any playgroup, but they do require a certain awareness from the team. Once the group acknowledges a Powergamer’s role, they can be free to let loose on the opposition safe in the knowledge that the team has their back.
What do you guys think of this approach? Am I missing something? Also, what player type would you like to see me tackle next? Let me know in the comments below.