Is there a good way to 'bestow power' on a player?

I’m not too familiar with the core D&D rules but I watch a few youtubers who discuss RPG content and recently I’ve seen a few videos on Warlocks - which to my knowledge are PCs who get their power from some kind of pact with a powerful being.

I currently have a PC who is possessed by a demon (alternate form) and as a consequence he wants to free himself from it - but retain the powers that it gives him. I’m setting up a way to do this using a crown that will sever the ties the demon has with him completely - not exactly what he wants - but…

I’m considering then having him be approached by some kind of patron that offers to modify the crown so that he can still use alternate form OR perhaps reinvent his character somewhat by offering him a replacement form.

The problem I have is that this PC is already playing a necromancer who is solely focused on amassing power - is there a way, mechanically, that I can have a new patron bestow power upon him without creating an unbalanced monster?

Is it even possible or is this something that can only be done at character creation so that the PC levelling up normally is seen as a gift from his patron?

It seems like anything I give him will be ‘extra’ on top of what his character should have for his level.

This scenario opens many paths for possible solutions, but before offering any advice there are several questions that need to be answered first, in my opinion:

  • Why would the PC want to retain these powers? Shouldn’t he feel relieved to get rid of the corrupting power? Or does the player want to keep these powers for his character?

  • Why would this patron offer his help to the PC? What does the patron gain by this? Because these deals always come with a catch attached to them.

The answers to these questions would greatly improve any possible advice or direction I can give, because without these, we don’t have any motivations for what is happening in your world or with the PC.

Also, keep in mind much of this can be solved without you actually having to do anything, but by the player adapting, but for now it sounds like the player wants to have his cake, and it too. Consider this: If we use D&D Warlocks as an analogy, Warlocks have this flavour integrated into their classes from the get go, but your player seems to want to switch classes, while keeping the benefits of the previous class.

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It mostly sounds like the player is wanting a free respec of Attributes and Feat points. What level are they? If there’s a good enough reason in game for this to happen I could potentially see it happening. If you are on a few sessions in and the players have still been figuring out the system, I could see justifying it as well. Otherwise, they are just wanting something for free b/c they “messed up” their build?

Like @VanGo said, more information would be helpful.

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Unfortunately - the answer to this question is very unsatisfying. The character in question is very two dimensional and is simple an ‘evil’ necromancer who wants to get power because of reasons. I’ve tried my best to get the player to develop beyond this but he’s happy with his power hungry character, I think his ideal end goal would be to become a God which… will never happen (or if it does he’ll become an NPC)

Honestly I’m still unsure on this one, I’m more concerned about the mechanical balancing of being able to give my player the power he wants without breaking the game or bending the rules for him.

Off the top of my head, the patron an NPC that has been reduced to an ethereal form centuries ago. He’s recruiting followers in order to regain his corporeal form and get revenge on whatever it was that reduced him to a shadow of his former self.

Regarding the respeccing thing - this is entirely my idea and I haven’t run it past my player yet. The issue I have with this player is that his character just wants power and I don’t know how to achieve that beyond letting his character grow naturally.

I thought this would be a good concept as it comes with the price of servitude but I don’t know what ‘gifts’ or ‘powers’ I can actually give the player mechanically.

Even though I dislike this PCs character I think everyone at the table should have fun and if this is his idea of fun I want to try and humour him, just not at the expense of the other players getting overshadowed by a more powerful party member.

Wants Power isn’t well defined here either. Are they wanting:

  • Social Power
  • National Power
  • Duke like Power
  • In game Power for Combat

What IS power?

B/c you could achieve that with a simple means of an item that a patron gives them. You can use this, but when I ask something of you, I expect it to happen. And if it doesn’t they get a permanent sickened bane or some such narrative thing. BUT, this depends on what sort of power they are looking for.

In a campaign, I have a similar player, though they are willing to actually define what they are wanting and have a rich character backgroung to pull from. So I gave a mission that involved clearing out an old tower that was being misused by a “dirt” wizard. He ended up claiming it and re-purposing it for his own uses. That requires upkeep, etc.

Usually the biggest thing with this is just communication. Have you talked to the player and said, “Hey, it’s really tough trying to do things for your character (and you) in this campaign b/c I don’t have enough info. It’s almost unfun for me (BECAUSE YOU ARE A PLAYER TOO, btw) having to deal with this. Can you do X, Y, or Z to help me out?”

Too few times people don’t just talk about it, and try and work around the issue without actually having a conversation, which often times just leads to more problems.

Of course, I have no idea if that is the case with you and your player, I’m just saying that as a general blanket statement.

Very good points - I think the kind of power he wants is innate magical power. Which to me translates to combat related stuff (that seems to be all he’s really bothered about)

I have really tried to get him to define what he wants more and to expand on his character - I send out surveys when I think the PCs are getting stale and have them redefine what is important to them.

The most I’ve got from him is that he wants power, he doesn’t care about anyone or anything else and he eventually wants to destroy a group in my campaign called the Revenants who are essentially Paladins who hunt necromancers.

I can definitely try talking to him again but I am 99% sure that he wants in game, combat related power.

And while I can give him that with items and what not I don’t want him to be significantly stronger than the other characters because then they feel useless.

Honestly, it sounds like he fits into the group of players who are the easiest to please: Powergamers. Give him what he wants and you’ll know you won’thave to invest much time into his character or its development, especially since you already tried with surveys etc. Have him along for the ride, as a spectator, during the story-part and give him moments to shine during combat and he’ll probably be happy. If he doesn’t engage otherwise in the narrative, I’d say he lost his right to drive it, but in my experience most powergamers don’t care about that anyway.

If you still want to introduce your patron, than that’s easily achieved: Have the patron pop-up with a nice and shiny item, which has a drawback and ultimately benefits the patron. But it sounds like that is not needed to keep that player happy, so I’d suggest focusing on the players who engage with your content.

Everything @VanGo said are along the lines of what I was going to say. Though I’ll add this about the above thing you said:

You build the encounters, so you can make any character more powerful than another in a given encounter or instance of that encounter. Encounter as the word counter in it for a reason :wink:

Some characters shine more in combat, others shine more out of combat, some more in a certain type of fight or one with certain terrain or enemies. It’s all in your hands.

That’s fair - I would definitely say he’s a power gamer. Would you advise I stick with extraordinary items or can I bestow him with extra feats and stat boosts? I think he’s more after the latter because he wants his character to be powerful moreso than have powerful gear but I don’t want to create a slippery slope.

Good point! This was my biggest worry but I suppose you’re right, there will always be something bigger and badder that I can throw at him - and those Revenants he wants to wipe out are an order of Knights and mages specifically designed to hunt people like him down and eliminate them.

I wouldn’t, but that’s only me. You could hand out items that raise stats and give feats, or hand them out as you call it, but I would do it at most once and he’d have to work for that kind of power. Send him and the group on a quest, because such items/boosts should feel epic and legendary, and not something that a watery tart should throw at him.

I could see the room for a narrative were a player gets rid of his alternate form and gets the points refunded, that could even be used to make a new alt form that preferably make some narrative sense.

But I would never see a reason for just getting rid of the flaws with alt form keep it and get bonus feat points on top of that.

Like there is I guess a few types of power gamers like three classic one that tries to find since clever way to use the rules or some who just find some min Max guide on the internet.

Then you have the even more lazy path, ask the GM to give you more items, stats, feats then the rest of the group and maybe some house rules in they favour. Some people who want to go down that will never truly be happy and if the GM gives in then that just opens up for them to ask for more.

Now you can try to motivate him to complete some goals so the group gets not xp if that is the way you handle XP. Another option is questing for an item that fits him, but it can suck for the rest of the group of they don’t get anything.

More shady deals, more power at a cost, granted if he has no interest in other parts then combat this might be harder to give penalties that actually matters.

Another way could be to give him what he wants with the ultimate price, enough power to slay the Paladin guild, have an epic session where he gets to slay them and then finish off the character. Maybe he don’t dies but have some other place and becomes an NPC. Now he could even become someone the party have to take down. Granted you might come into similar situation if he starts a new character that have the same complex of having to be better then everybody at any cost, maybe not.

Also another thing I’m wondering about, is the rest of the group evil? Because evil gangs can be fun to run they have a tenancy of imploding at some point. If not there might be some party tention that makes different interests hard to keep them together.

A bit of a rant I had going here, just some things that came to mind based on assumption’s I have to admit

That sounds fair - I’m just thinking of giving him more utility focused feats so that his character is feels cooler and more capable. I might restrict them mostly to items rather than innate gifts though because then they can always be taken away if things get out of hand.

That’s more what I was thinking of doing - replacing his current Alt Form with a new one from this patron, that way he gets rid of the demon (which is what he wants) but rather than keeping the demon’s powers he’s given new powers from another source - with a new downside being that he now has a patron that he has to keep happy.

I think he’s definitely this kind of player, though not to the point where it’s affecting other people’s fun. He just wants a powerful character and expects that I will present opportunities for him to fulfil that fantasy - which I think is fair, it’s just annoying that it relates to combat stats because that’s potentially game-breaking if I let him take it too far.

I was considering this too! I watched a video recently by Matt Colville where he described an item that let his player turn into a phoenix which was incredibly powerful but once the effect wore off - the character died. Think something like this might entice this player and bring a nice end to his character. Maybe not death but a state of undeath or thrown to another dimension so he’s no longer playable but potentially has more story to be told.

I would go about it by having some requirements from the character. First off, they would need to have Alternate Form II. Then, once they are crowned, they replace that feat with Companion III, as it’s both the highest tier and same feat cost. Then they can “retain” their power in the form of enslaving the demon that once possessed them.

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