To Puzzle or Not To?... How the Barbarian is making everything too easy

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Ok, I get it, part of it is my fault :/

I don't have any real means or time for making dungeons (unless I find a helluva good tool that lets me do them online... maptool isn't working as I would have expected and I can't get tiles in my country -.-), so I followed the DM Links sticky and found donjon, which randomly produces maps for me, and they've been working since I edit the rooms... until..... HE CAME.

Let me explain you how our campaigns go... we're a total of 8, but we're between 6-5, or even 4 per session, since I'm the group's "big daddy" and they're still middle high/highschoolers which have been more bussy than I, a college dude (-.- ironic isn't it?); they love modern-day settings, and two of us act as DMs of different games with similar campaigns. My campaign is a modern day setting horror-mystery based on the Shin Megami Tensei games (particullary Persona, they all have custom familiars regardless of the power source to simbolize said inner demons) and the Corpse Party visual novel/survival horror.

So, they're all humans, very ingenious, and have amazed me with actions behind my comprehension, such as, trying to... tame a Gelatinous Cube...

They like the game, I like the game... but lately we've been running into encounter design problems, which I'll try to point out later. HOWEVER, there's this Barbarian guy that comes to play with us from time to time, and we really like his charisma and politeness in the game table. However, he does what a Barbarian loves the most: BREAKING EVERYTHING ON SIGHT, and it's become a hinderance for some puzzles... and I don't know if it's MY problem as a DM, or I should do something.

My players have told me they love the puzzles I scatter trough the dungeons; however when the Barb's on play, they'd rather stop thinking and have him break down a wall, smash a door,  and all of them just run trough the whole dungeon breaking wall after wall... Part of the problem is that the danged Donjon usually makes room too close one to each other and some walls are 1 square deep. Another one is that I don' like to say no to my player's actions, and guys, most doors on the game are breakable... Yeah, I've done Arcane locks and have put traps behind doors, but my rogue and wizard are the luckiest persons on earth or something...

I'm wondering wahat should I do, since a dungeon run with this guy can go from a creepy old house exploration, to "smash everything till' we get to the main room" kind of adventure that consists of just encounters... My players seem to enjoy both puzzle using and combat, but when this guy is arrund they LOVE it when he makes big holes on walls... which I'm not enjoying at all. I tried talking to thhem about it, saying that they should try to explore a little more, but they don't really care, they just want to go there, fight a Solo monster, and get some glory.

Next session will be the end of Heroic Tier, and I've prepared the deadliest dungeon so far: Heavenly Host Elementary from the Corpse Party game; whoever's read the manga or played the games should know that's kind of Lolth's vacation place, filled with the eternal screams of tortured children, eviscerated, cannibalized teens, and souls which repeat the pain of their deaths forever. When they get inside, they group will be split into 3 parts (2 for each plane), and they won't be able to interact until they make the planes a whole to kick the big baddie of Heroic Tier. I'vew already sorted how encounter will be; they'll be fighting the same enemy group from different planes, but they won't be able to interact with one each other; so whoever gets the cleric for his group is lucky... still, they're all easy encounters to compensate the planar split. HOWEVER THE BARBARIAN IS COMING, and I don't know how to manage stuff with him...

In the manga/game, a person is unable to break doors and walls of that school, since the school and its master are almost gods themselves... He's the only one who hasn't played/read it, so he doesn't knows that; it's supposed that the school is a deathtrap that knows EVERYTHING about those who enter... so, shoukld I make the plane he's trapped in well... UNBREAKABLE? I'm sure he would rant about it... ¬.¬ 
Make the walls and doors he break apear in the way of the others
Make the walls and doors bleed and screams when he breaks them
Going throught a broken door or wall just brings him to a undamaged room thats just like the room he left
 
If you hit a stone wall with a hand, you break your hand. If you hit a stone wall with an axe, you break your axe.

The wall are made of pure plot from the finest plot mines that the king of plotania could buy with his plot dollars. They are as strong as you need them to be. 
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There are all sorts of in-game ways to deal with this, such as having tunneling through the walls take time, make noise, attract attention, not to mention the old standbys of having wards activated (like traps) or accidentally going through a load-bearing wall and making a room collapse on the barbarian's head.

My suggestion, however, talk to the players, all of them, barbarian included. Point out that they are bypassing a lot of the fun, and you are going to stop presenting puzzles and such if they aren't going to bother to try. If they want to go room to room killing things and taking their stuff, play that kind of game, but dont go through the effort of creating stuff they arent going to notice or appreciate. You also can point out to them you do have the option of throwing roadblocks in the barbarian's way, but would rather everyone is on board and having fun.

An honest conversation is going to save you work, regardless of how the conversation goes.

Good luck.
Let him break a few doors and walls, but when possible penalize the group for doing so.

In the godlike school dungeon of yours, for example, all the walls are enhanced with powerful magic empowerd by aciant runes. Not only it makes the walls unbreakable but it damages whoever hits it.

In other dungeon, for example, it could be located on volcano, so breaking walls wouldn't be so wise. There are in-game ways to make'em stop doint it.

I don't know much about your particular game and lore but you shouldn't follow donjon to the letter. You can easily expand area without having to re-do the whole map, making your walls four to five squares wide.

But, whatever you do, don't make it impossible to break all the walls and doors in your game. If your group find it rewarding keep that feature as a possibility, but don't let them puch holes throughout all your dungeons.
Let him break a few doors and walls, but when possible penalize the group for doing so. In the godlike school dungeon of yours, for example, all the walls are enhanced with powerful magic empowerd by aciant runes. Not only it makes the walls unbreakable but it damages whoever hits it. In other dungeon, for example, it could be located on volcano, so breaking walls wouldn't be so wise. There are in-game ways to make'em stop doint it. I don't know much about your particular game and lore but you shouldn't follow donjon to the letter. You can easily expand area without having to re-do the whole map, making your walls four to five squares wide. But, whatever you do, don't make it impossible to break all the walls and doors in your game. If your group find it rewarding keep that feature as a possibility, but don't let them puch holes throughout all your dungeons.



This is exactly the opposite of what I was suggesting. ;)

Which is good, because you now have a wide range of options and advice ;)
If that's the game they want, that's the game you should give them. Surely there are other aspects of the game that you enjoy. Focus on those instead of focusing on a tone and on challenges that don't appear to appeal to the players.

Also, collaborate with them. Ask leading questions like "There's something about this next room that makes simply destroying it unwise. What is it?" Ask that of the barbarian player. If that player is receptive to the idea and suggests an unbreakable challenge for himself, then he'll have nothing to rant about. If they're unreceptive and suggests something that's easily avoidable in some other way, let them do that, and take the hint that they don't want the kind of game you want.

[N]o difference is less easily overcome than the difference of opinion about semi-abstract questions. - L. Tolstoy

If that's the game they want, that's the game you should give them.



I disagree.  The OP has said flat out "...which I'm not enjoying at all" (emphasis mine).  The game needs to be fun for the DM too.  They need to figure out a style of play that everyone enjoys.

If that's the game they want, that's the game you should give them.



I disagree.  The OP has said flat out "...which I'm not enjoying at all" (emphasis mine).  The game needs to be fun for the DM too.  They need to figure out a style of play that everyone enjoys.




But part of why the OP is not enjoying this is because the OP is prepping for stuff the PCs are bypassing. That would frustrate anyone.
If that's the game they want, that's the game you should give them.

I disagree.  The OP has said flat out "...which I'm not enjoying at all" (emphasis mine).  The game needs to be fun for the DM too.  They need to figure out a style of play that everyone enjoys.

Hm, good point, and I agree that the poster should collaborate with the players. Good idea. I wish it had occurred to me.

[N]o difference is less easily overcome than the difference of opinion about semi-abstract questions. - L. Tolstoy

If that's the game they want, that's the game you should give them.

I disagree.  The OP has said flat out "...which I'm not enjoying at all" (emphasis mine).  The game needs to be fun for the DM too.  They need to figure out a style of play that everyone enjoys.

Hm, good point, and I agree that the poster should collaborate with the players. Good idea. I wish it had occurred to me.



I have a suspicion you might have mentioned it once or twice in those 8k posts ;)
If that's the game they want, that's the game you should give them.

I disagree.  The OP has said flat out "...which I'm not enjoying at all" (emphasis mine).  The game needs to be fun for the DM too.  They need to figure out a style of play that everyone enjoys.

Hm, good point, and I agree that the poster should collaborate with the players. Good idea. I wish it had occurred to me.

I have a suspicion you might have mentioned it once or twice in those 8k posts ;)

Perhaps even the one you quoted.

[N]o difference is less easily overcome than the difference of opinion about semi-abstract questions. - L. Tolstoy

If that's the game they want, that's the game you should give them.



I disagree.  The OP has said flat out "...which I'm not enjoying at all" (emphasis mine).  The game needs to be fun for the DM too.  They need to figure out a style of play that everyone enjoys.




But part of why the OP is not enjoying this is because the OP is prepping for stuff the PCs are bypassing. That would frustrate anyone.



Agreed.  I don't like to suggest that one play style is better than another, but if a DM wants to spend a lot of time creating elaborate encounters (puzzles or otherwise), then they need to either:

1. Make sure that their group enjoys a linear/rail-roady style of game (contrary to a lot of advice on these boards, there are plenty of players that do)
2. OR be prepared for players to bypass that content (at least until they recycle it into a subsequent adventure)

I'm also a big fan of only doing the bits of the prep work that you enjoy purely for the sake of doing them; and borrow, avoid or improvise the rest.  That way option number 2 is a lot easier to stomach.
 
If that's the game they want, that's the game you should give them.

I disagree.  The OP has said flat out "...which I'm not enjoying at all" (emphasis mine).  The game needs to be fun for the DM too.  They need to figure out a style of play that everyone enjoys.

But part of why the OP is not enjoying this is because the OP is prepping for stuff the PCs are bypassing. That would frustrate anyone.

Agreed.  I don't like to suggest that one play style is better than another, but if a DM wants to spend a lot of time creating elaborate encounters (puzzles or otherwise), then they need to either:

1. Make sure that their group enjoys a linear/rail-roady style of game (contrary to a lot of advice on these boards, there are plenty of players that do)

Very true, and everyone has a degree to which they'll accept it. Trust matters here.

2. OR be prepared for players to bypass that content (at least until they recycle it into a subsequent adventure)

I'm also a big fan of only doing the bits of the prep work that you enjoy purely for the sake of doing them; and borrow, avoid or improvise the rest.  That way option number 2 is a lot easier to stomach.

Very much agreed.

[N]o difference is less easily overcome than the difference of opinion about semi-abstract questions. - L. Tolstoy

Put them in a cave, and make it clear that if you destroy walls and supports it will collapse. Then if they choose to blow up walls and supports, reroute your adventure into the underdark.  If they don't there you go.

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In the manga/game, a person is unable to break doors and walls of that school



Well, there ya go.

since the school and its master are almost gods themselves...



Is the barbarian strong enough to break a hole in a god (yet)?  No?  Well, there ya go.

it's supposed that the school is a deathtrap that knows EVERYTHING about those who enter... so, shoukld I make the plane he's trapped in well... UNBREAKABLE? I'm sure he would rant about it... ¬.¬ 



Try putting a different spin on it.  Don't just treat this revelation like a forgettable footnote.  Treat it as a very important piece of plot.  Because it is.  Or rather, it can be if you choose to make it so.

Here you have Breaky McWallsmasher who has a well documented ability to break down darn near anything.  And suddenly he discovers that something that should be trivial to destroy is instead completely impervious to any and all attempts.  This should be sounding alarm bells for all PCs involved.  That's like the Justice League learning that Superman's strength has been turned off.  Something that should not be happening is happening, and that shouldn't happen!

This revelation can serve as one of the events you use to set up the reveal, in which the PCs fully realize the true, actively malevolent nature of the place they have found themselves trapped it.
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If that's the game they want, that's the game you should give them.



I disagree.  The OP has said flat out "...which I'm not enjoying at all" (emphasis mine).  The game needs to be fun for the DM too.  They need to figure out a style of play that everyone enjoys.




DM like puzzles.
Barbarian like smash. 

I know the answer!

Why don't we have a puzzle while in combat? Brilliant!

If that's the game they want, that's the game you should give them.



I disagree.  The OP has said flat out "...which I'm not enjoying at all" (emphasis mine).  The game needs to be fun for the DM too.  They need to figure out a style of play that everyone enjoys.

DM like puzzles.
Barbarian like smash. 

I know the answer!

Why don't we have a puzzle while in combat? Brilliant!

Yep. "Being cut in half" is only one of the many problems standalone puzzles and traps have. Occupy the barbarian with something that wants to cut him and his friends in half, and he'll either not bother tackling the puzzle, or he'll tackle the puzzle and the actual puzzle becomes how to deal with the other threats while the striker is occupied.

But, also, make sure the players want to bother with puzzles at all.

[N]o difference is less easily overcome than the difference of opinion about semi-abstract questions. - L. Tolstoy

In the gingerbread world i suppose one can break anything, eat his way through walls.  Dnd world is not.  Hit points for structures are relative guideline at a mirco level, incase a player wants to break small things, such as a door, small rock, bend a steel bar, break a table.  It wasn't meant to be interpreted literally at a macro level such as punch through a mountain, break every type of door with a few kicks, carve through a wall with an axe.  developers probably figured, players can't be so silly as to interpret it that way and then cheese it to a macro level.

hit points to structures are a relative number, another pacing mechanism, just like hit points for players.  And "breaking" a door is also a relative term.  It literally does not mean you pulvorized the entire thing into a powder if you reduced its hit point to 0. It means the player broke the lock to the door and openned it.  If a typical door has hit point of 20, a player may kick it and open it.  Reducing the 20 dont = entire door got pulvorized into powder.  If player wants to do that...he can spend next one hour doing it with difficulty & time set by the dm.

Also a barbarian with str of 26 does not = a great dragon with str 26.  Purly how much weight both can bench press, then sure, but it dont mean both can do everything involving str equally well.  dragon is huge with metal hard claws, and plate hard skin.  Just cause he can land and dismantel a stone wall piece at a time with his bear hand does not mean a barbarian can do the same.  

olympic lifter may be able to lift 500 pound plates on a barbell over his head.  Change that into a 500 lb car, and he wont be able to lift it over his head... Small hands, uneven weight distribution, no handle, you know...

you guys get my point..

Change the perception on how players view hit points on structures and you can bring them into realm of reality.

adamentite door= structure hit point 100.  My toon hit point = 120.  Damn im harder then adamentite door = no.  













Another thing to consider is that breaking through walls in most places is going to be a task, not something done like the Kool-Aid Man shouting OH YEAH! as he kicks through cardboard.

This is where wandering monsters come in. A lot of noise + time = attention-grabbing.

My players have looked into similar resolutions as well and occasionally use it but it depends on the circumstances they're in since drawing major attention to ones self in a labyrinth or dungeon is rarely a great decision. This gives them a choice to make...do we create a short-cut and possibly draw down attention on ourselves, or do we not do that and continue in a less termite-like fashion?

In this way you give the players more choices to make without arbitrarily invalidating either one. No magic-walls-of-hurt-people and no world-of-graham-cracker.

If you are not using random encounters/wandering monsters I highly suggest you do so...they are great for working on improvisation, giving out interesting treasure, creating unique scenarios that could never really be brewed purposefully and keeping the world living & breathing around the players.

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Gently remind them that bringing down walls might bring the dungeon's ceiling down. Tons of rock will kill even the strongest barbarian, so he might reconsider his approach.
Gently remind them that bringing down walls might bring the dungeon's ceiling down. Tons of rock will kill even the strongest barbarian, so he might reconsider his approach.

This is saying "No." Try to find a way to say "Yes, and..." because players love to call a DM's bluff, and what DM really wants to bring the ceiling down on the players just because they wouldn't jump through the DM's preferred hoops?

[N]o difference is less easily overcome than the difference of opinion about semi-abstract questions. - L. Tolstoy

There are tons of ways to get around that.   The collapsing building is needlessly extreme.

The barb smashes through a door:
- and falls into a pit...that's not unoccupied.   The pit has a locking plate on it, and the key is held by the other monsters who were in that room.
- and is suddenly faced by a boulder rolling towards the party
- and alerts all the monsters within 5 rooms to come and investigate
- which triggers several darts to fire at him.  Those that miss might hit those behind him.

Simply put, don't allow breaking down doors to always be the most advantageous thing to do.   That part IS your fault.
In the dungeon described, with the party split over multiple planes, you have the perfect opportunity to let the barbarian loose without risking losing any puzzles you set up for the other PCs. To keep the feel of the place being indestructible and it's master god-like, describe the walls and doors re-forming when he turns his backl. Reforming in new configurations, making the whole place a maze. 

If you want to discourage him from this strategy, there are plenty of other suggestions, but wait until after that dungeon.
Gently remind them that bringing down walls might bring the dungeon's ceiling down. Tons of rock will kill even the strongest barbarian, so he might reconsider his approach.

This is saying "No." Try to find a way to say "Yes, and..." because players love to call a DM's bluff, and what DM really wants to bring the ceiling down on the players just because they wouldn't jump through the DM's preferred hoops?




"Yes, and if you happen to take out a load bearing wall you all might die".
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You could always role play a reinforced bunker type of thing (like a paranoid wizard) which has 12" iron sheets between two stone walls. I mean it's your dungeon! Alternatively, unless wizards have had prior experience with portals they can't really mess with them. Unless they can solve the puzzle that bars a door, which makes the portal disappear if they try to enter it, it makes them fall from the roof and land in the square infront of the portal, or the bit of their body that it put in the portal falls from the roof. Non leathal of course and is just for show, but it does cause them pain. Just a thought