The evenings gaming session is going great. So far you’ve had some great role playing, a unique skill challenge and now you’re entering the first encounter of the evening. The defender charges into combat. The NPC’s turn comes up and you decide to attack the defender by using one of the NPC’s encounter powers. You roll the dice and call out the attack score. This is going to hit you think, only to have the defender calmly announce that you’ve missed his AC by a long shot.
What do you do when session after session you can never hit the defender or when one player min/maxs their character to the point of absurdity?
Look at the Whole Situation
As a DM you need to realize that tools like the character builder make it easier for players to build the ultimate monster killers. They can easily min/max all their numbers, search for the most beneficial weapon/power/feat combinations to make your life hell. On one hand this is the nature of the game. D&D has always been a subtle (or not so subtle) mix of role playing creativity and number crunching to make the most effective character for the situation.
As DMs we should expect a level of min/maxing from our players. However, it shouldn’t come at the expense of you or the other players at the table. If a player is taking it to the extreme there are a few things you can try.
Take the player aside or send an email and let them know that their play style is having a negative impact on the game. Be prepared for some resistance on this one. It won’t take a killer insight roll to realize that the player isn’t going to be pleased with this. Expect them to try to intimidate you by informing you that their character is completely within the rules.
Of course they might agree with you and alter or retire their character. Just don’t count on it.
Your encounters might need to be tweaked to properly challenge the player. If you’re building encounters to have normal difficulty, pump them up so that they are tougher. Add in an extra combatant or two. There are several good idea’s on how to alter your encounters to make them more interesting in the series we ran on Has Your Campaign Stalled (Part 1 & Part 2).
Take Off the Gloves
The DM and player relationship isn’t normally adversarial. With the exception of Dungeon Delves the relationship is more of a partnership to foster and develop a common story. However, if you’ve got a player you just can’t beat and they’re rubbing it in your face then perhaps you should hit back, hard.
Please note, I’m not giving you an excuse to ignore or break the rules. I’m just saying pick on the player during combat. Put them in situations outside of combat that they clearly haven’t developed their character to handle. If you can’t beat their AC or whatever other aspect they have min/maxed, then don’t. Just ignore it and attack the character where they chose the min value. Then do it again. Do it just enough to make them paranoid. You might find their next character is a little bit more balanced.
How do you handle the one character that your monsters just can’t hit? Or who thinks he can get away with anything because of his +20 to diplomacy checks?