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HELP: Ideas for challenging my player’s OP characters

Ronaldo Lima

Member
Adventure Builder
Hello, I am GMing a SUPERS short campaign for my six wonderful players who love to come up with the most “optimized” powers they can get (including digging the internet for ideas)...

So, I wanted to challenge them, but with something else beyond creating equivalent NPCs to fight them (we are playing M&M 3e, they started at Power Level 6 and will be levelling up to 10)

Therefore, I am hoping to get ideas to design situations that would require them to be smart and creative in using their powers to solve/fix them.

I know I can always use some sort of “nullifying powers” effect or even come up with a super powerful NPC, but I would really like to minimize those options, because frequently they make the players feel they are being cheated...

Am I trying to hard and putting myself into a corner? Or are there indeed clever dilemmas to get them challenged while playing their character’s best game?
 

TealdragonUK

Member
Faster Combatant
Adventure Builder
Not a system I know, but a few suggestions would be -
Environment - do they fly, then stick them in corridors or underground. Underwater secret villain base? Cold powers might struggle in a volcano lair. How about onboard a space station or a Nuclear Missle Silo.
Innocent Bystanders - Super heroes have to worry about their surroundings (hopefully) so school bus full of children, busy streets at rush hour, office high rise. All those big area effects and destructive powers need to be used far more carefully. Significant others, important NPCs added to the mix.
If one of those is being held hostage the heroes may have to try to comply with the villains demands whilst trying to sneakily enact a rescure.
You could go full on "Planet Hulk" or Thor Ragnarock with inhibitors except in arenas with terrible things. They get to use those awesome powers in the arena but need to think outside the box trying to escape with limited powers. Even a weak villain can hold a lot of power is they have to one thing the heroes need/care about.
Also a time limit to something puts some pressure on them - something using the Blades in the Dark progress clock would be great - ticking time bomb, asteroid approaching the earth. Everything they do becomes much more important and those occasional skill fails become far more problematic than normal.
 

CoryG

Portfolio Importer & World Map Maintainer
Wizard of Adventure
Beta-Tester
Adventure Builder
@TealdragonUK those are such great ideas to throw off some OP players! Kind of makes me think of the Amazon series "The Boys" which show super-heroes with super-egos struggling with real-life scenarios that they can't use their powers to deal with.
 

TealdragonUK

Member
Faster Combatant
Adventure Builder
@TealdragonUK those are such great ideas to throw off some OP players! Kind of makes me think of the Amazon series "The Boys" which show super-heroes with super-egos struggling with real-life scenarios that they can't use their powers to deal with.
Kinda figured you have to hit them where it really hurts, I forgot to throw in moral dilemas - save the school bus or stop the villain is a classic. I need to get round to watching that show, it is meant to be good.
 

JohnnFour

Game Master
Staff member
Demonplague Author
Wizard of Adventure
Beta-Tester
Adventure Builder
Gamer Lifestyle
One approach is to take any factor or trait to the limit.

The Amber RPG needed this kind of thinking.

For example, if the enemy is the fastest in the world, how do you catch them?

If the vault is made out of secret alloy that is the strongest thing in the universe, how do the PCs break in to save the prisoners?
 

Ronaldo Lima

Member
Adventure Builder
Not a system I know, but a few suggestions would be -
Really appreciated all your suggestions. Particularly the environment and bystanders constraints... time pressure can also be helpful. I am not familiar with Blades in the Dark, but I am guessing the mechanics for that "progress clock" are not related to the passage of our actual time off game, right?
 

Ronaldo Lima

Member
Adventure Builder
@TealdragonUK those are such great ideas to throw off some OP players! Kind of makes me think of the Amazon series "The Boys" which show super-heroes with super-egos struggling with real-life scenarios that they can't use their powers to deal with.
Yeah! I've seen the 2 seasons that are available so far and got some ideas from there! Good show, smart storytelling, insightful & sarcastic writing.
 

Ronaldo Lima

Member
Adventure Builder
One approach is to take any factor or trait to the limit.
Hadn't thought about that. But now that you mentioned, there are lots of possibilities: the most agile/skilled fighter, the most precise/accurate shooter, the deepest pit, the sharpest blade, the coldest/hottest place, and so on...
I can see how it could easily turn out into a specific mission with a bit of a Mission Impossible vibe, where they would have some prep time to gather information and come up with a plan before attempting the execution... which will (as it's always the case) be faced with a few unexpected hiccups... really good potential here! Tks!
 

TealdragonUK

Member
Faster Combatant
Adventure Builder
Really appreciated all your suggestions. Particularly the environment and bystanders constraints... time pressure can also be helpful. I am not familiar with Blades in the Dark, but I am guessing the mechanics for that "progress clock" are not related to the passage of our actual time off game, right?
https://bladesinthedark.com/progress-clocks
It's a really simple tool, but very effective and visual.
 

JohnnFour

Game Master
Staff member
Demonplague Author
Wizard of Adventure
Beta-Tester
Adventure Builder
Gamer Lifestyle
I use progress clocks in all my games now. Some games I avoid breaking the 4th wall more than others, so I'll clock those in secret. And in other games I'll create them on an index card and share with players (or I did before the apocalypse).
 

Ye Olde Raven

New member
Wizard of Adventure
A thought I just had was about a foe whose scale is such that you can't see all of or one who doesn't care how hard you can punch. An environmental disaster, rising tides, burst dams, forest fires and earthquakes. A partially toppled building with people your heroes care about needs a different approach. Put them on a small spacecraft to save astronauts in the International Space Station. Space would be happy to receive them if they punch a hole in their craft.

The character's powers will still be of use - they're superheroes, after all. But they'll need to consider the consequences of using their powers along with potentially needing to use their power in a different way.

Good luck!
 

TealdragonUK

Member
Faster Combatant
Adventure Builder
I'd forgotten about environment, Mother Nature is a harsh opponent! Space Station is great, you can throw in underwater sea base or submarine in a similar manner.
 

Ronaldo Lima

Member
Adventure Builder
Hi, sorry for the delay... have been away of the RPG world in the last few weeks... thanks for all this good advice... I will definitely use some environmental / mother nature calamities with them when we resume playing (hopefully sooner than later)...
 
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