After listening to some podcasts recently on the topic of Min-Maxing and Powergaming, I’ve come to a bit of a revelation as to what I, personally, believe to be the underlying cause of Min-Maxing, and, perhaps, why it’s not such a terrible thing.
Essentially, I believe that the Min-Maxer is really a response to and an defense against a much more insidious, disruptive playstyle. A playstyle I call “Mr. Do-Everything.”
Chances are that if you’ve played RPG’s for any amount of time, you know what I’m talking about. Mr. Do-Everything is the player that wants to do EVERYTHING. He wants to charm the king, fight the baddies, sneak by the guards, cast the spell, etc, etc. He is the ‘star’ of the game, and everyone else are the hapless fools that are riding his coattails.
Obviously, it’s not always that extreme. Sometimes it’s the guy that wants to be able to roleplay outwitting the guard even though he’s got a -2 in Charisma. I’ve seen this type of player huff and puff about he has the right to talk a guard into leaving his post, no matter the die roll, because this is a roleplaying game, gosh-darn-it, and he’s roleplaying!
I’m sorry, but FUCK that guy. While he cries about his agency and the GM railroading him and “roleplay” vs. “rollplay”, what he’s really doing is hogging the spotlight, refusing to share it with someone who actually built their character for talking the pants off guards.
The problem is, most GM’s don’t really realize and internalize that this is even a problem. Which, in turn, puts it into the other players hands to regulate. Hence, the Min-Maxer. The guy who games the rules and takes a hit in Dex because By God, when his number comes up and it’s time to talk the guard into standing aside, he can turn to Mr. Do-Everything and say, “Oh, you have a -1 in Persuasion? I have a +5. Why don’t you let me do the talking…”