A game I'm going to be GM'ing begins in a couple of weeks and I've had each player come over to generate their character before our first session. For the first four of the five players this went smoothly and the player & I had fun doing it. The last player asked me to roll his stats & email them to him so he could start working on his character before we got together. Wanting to be amenable I did so. Despite my requirement to generate his character with me he did it all on his own at home and sent the completed character to me the next day.
A 30 second scan of the character's details had me mouthing "Uh oh"; while the other four players had gone with what I will term the "role-playing" path to character generation this last players had gone the "power-gaming" route. Every player strives to optimize their character to some extent during character generation, but while the "role-playing" path involves working to keep the character's "crunch" (stats, skills, etc.) consistent with the concept behind the character, the "power-gaming" path involves optimizing the character's "crunch" at all costs. The completed character I was sent was a very aggressive example of power-gaming.
Skipping the details, he had selected a very daring combination of character types that gave a lot of 'crunch' benefits but that came with very negative role-playing implications. Then he sent me the story background he had written for his character that served to mitigate nearly all the negative role-playing implications. In reply, I sent him a list of questions that his background had to address for his very complex/conflicted character along with a detailed background story possibility for the character that left the negative implications in place - and suggested we talk about it when he comes over. He replied that he was backing out one of the character types because it had gotten "too complicated" & was going to look for another possible route to a talent he wanted that didn't have the "RP complications".
At that point I replied that I'd have preferred to discuss it in person but if he's going to keep working on it at home that I felt I should tell him that this was more of a "role-playing" campaign than a "power-gaming" campaign and that most additional layers he added to the character would probably involve some role-playing implications. That was a couple of days ago & I haven't yet gotten a reply.
I really wanted to have that discussion with him in person to mitigate any possible bad feelings about it but just couldn't get him to come over.
Have any of you run into the "role-playing" vs. "power-gaming" situation? How did you handle it? How did the players in question react?