Sometimes players resort to "min/maxing" when selecting weapon proficiencies.
Min/maxing occurs when a player calculates all the odds and numerical
advantages and disadvantages of a particular weapon. The player's decision isn't based
on his imagination, the campaign, role-playing, or character development. It is
based on game mechanics--what will give the player the biggest modifier and
cause the most damage in any situation.
A certain amount of min/maxing is unavoidable, and even good (it shows that
the player is interested in the game), but an excessive min/maxer is missing the
point. Reducing a character to a list of combat modifiers and dice rolls is not
Fortunately, this type of player is easy to deal with. Just create a situation
in which his carefully chosen weapon, the one intended to give him an edge
over everyone else, is either useless or puts him at a disadvantage. He will
suddenly discover the drawback of min/maxing. It is impossible to create a
combination of factors that is superior in every situation, because situations can vary
Finally, a character's lack of proficiency can be used to create dramatic
tension, a vital part of the game. In the encounter with kobolds described earlier,
the player howled in surprise because the situation suddenly got a lot more
dangerous than he expected it to. The penalty for nonproficiency increases the
risk to the player character, and that increases the scene's tension.
When a nonproficiency penalty is used to create tension, be sure the odds
aren't stacked against the character too much. Dramatic tension exists only while
the player thinks his character has a chance to escape, even if it's only a slim
chance. If a player decides the situation is hopeless, he will give up. His
reaction will switch from excitement to despair.
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