Last post, we discussed what Lex Luthor would do. I don’t want to insult any of you, but Lex Luthor is way smarter than we are. In fact, Lex Luthor is smarter than just about everyone. Look - In real life, I have an IQ that is at the top end of the charts. I didn’t just make genius, I’m a couple of standard deviations farther up the curve from there. Even I’m not as smart as Lex Luthor. More importantly, while I do from time to time sit around and think up ways for my NPCs to hold their power over the world, I do not have as much time to devote to such musings as a full time super villain, I mean hero. So what to do.
Ever see a really intelligently run con game film or major suspense story? Don’t you love it when the smart guy goes, “I knew you were going to do that, so I have prepared this trap for you”. OK, I know I cannot write dialog. In any case, there are times in film and literature when the smart guy can guess every move of the less smart guys. You need to let people do that in your games.
Some players might call this cheating, but you need to have a means by which the super smart guy can show that he’s super smart. Super smart guys should not allow some thief to hide in shadows, get around behind him, and back stab him to death. That would not be super smart. In fact, having a lair where people could sneak around behind you, would be pretty dumb. So let’s assume that after you wrote that mission, your players are now sneaking around behind your brilliant NPC mage, and you know one backstab is enough to end his life. What to do? Add in something that the mage would have prepared. If you have to, take a bathroom break and give yourself a chance to think. Is he a necromancer with a skeleton hidden in those same shadows? Is he an illusionist with a blinding light spell set to go off if anyone tries to backstab him? Is he an alchemist with a form of living stone behind him that will attack or at least trip anyone trying to get him from behind? Or is he some manner of alien who has never encountered a rogue who uses backstab as their major attack form and is therefore completely surprised by this incredibly obvious move?
The point is, that there are those characters who are supposed to be able to reasonably predict other people as though life really were a chess game with limited outcomes. If your players use a common, but effective strategy, then the super genius needs to be able to predict that type of attack and have a counter on hand - even if you as the game master did not. When it comes down to it, the players have many minds to come up with really cool strategies, you have but one. Sometimes you need to use that almighty GM power to even the odds.