As you said, the game lets you create a character with amazing powers. You'll already come into game as an amazingly powerful being, so why should it matter if you don't get something at character creation?
And how is it not a powergamer who refuses to quest for what they want? Is that not the entire purpose of roleplaying? Or is it simply a matter of not being able to see other aspects to a character other than the monster power you're seeking?
When someone comes to the table with a great general (in a manner that's level-appropriate), they are saying, "I want to play a great general." Playing a great general and facing the trials and tribulations that a great general would face is what the player is interested in.
At the same time, they are saying they are not interested in playing the young noble rising through the ranks to become a great general. That's not the part of the story they are trying to tell. That's not the part of the character's life they wish to explore. They wish to explore the character after he's already become the great general, with whatever that entails, whether it be epic battles against impossible odds to save the realm or a fall from glory from which the character seeks redemption.
All forcing the character to start out as a young soldier would accomplish is forcing the player to tell a story they rather explicitly stated they were uninterested in just to get the character they wanted to play in the first place.
You keep calling it powergaming, but it's not powergaming to actually start off with a character who has done significant and meaningful things. It's not saying you're not going to adventure for things. That there are adventures in the past that bring you to the beginning of the game does not change the fact that there are goals and adventures in the future. The game has to start somewhere, after all.
Should I have to play out my character's military and academic career from the beginning to earn her contacts? Should I have to play out my character's childhood to earn her sister's enmity? Should I have to play out her father's entire life to earn his fame? No. These are a part of my character's history, just as being born to a noble house is part of a noble's history, or learning to summon demons is a part of a demon summoner's history.
We all had our points to spend in character creation. That I spend mine on creating a character who is a warrior and a scholar does not mean that someone who spends their points to become a demon summoner is wrong to do so, or a powergamer, or should be forced to earn
those points we're all supposed to have simply as a part of character-creation. It means someone else choice to spend those points differently, to take a different path to the agreed-upon baseline for character-creation, to start with a different character than my own, and there is nothing wrong with that. They should not be penalized and denied their perfectly legal and valid character just because of some ill-conceived notion that they should be forced to earn
what everyone else on the team was given
merely as a part of character creation. It's the same stack of dots, charms, and points, after all.
I believe in every White Wolf book ever published, they say that the GM has final say on what is and isn't allowed in their game.
The power is trivial next to the responsibility that goes along with it. GM authority does not mean the GM can do whatever she pleases with impunity, regardless of reason. Everything in the universe is subject to logic. If a GM shoots something down for an invalid, irrational reason based on faulty reasoning from false premises, then that GM is wrong, regardless of whether or not he has the authority to make that decision. Authority and infallibility are two entirely different things.
Well, if the rules allow it, then I suppose it's simply up to the storyteller... If the rules don't allow it... Well, technically I suppose it's still up to the storyteller... In the end, like everything, it just comes down to what the storyteller is comfortable or able to allow with in his game for whatever the reason... Sometimes it's a mechanic she may not be comfortable with, or other times it may have something to do with the story, in which case she may lie and say she's not comfortable with it in order to not give a lead on the story (I know I've done that before)... and sometimes it can add story and drama to go hunting for a rare item or ability, as opposed to starting with it... If you start with everything you want, what do you honestly have left to do?
But again, everything comes down to the storyteller. You can talk it out with her, but she's does have the final say, and if you don't like the way she runs games, don't play in her games... I've been had one or two storytellers that I won't play for anymore...
The discussion isn't so much about this game in particular as it is on philosophies of gaming as a whole. However, again, that a GM has authority does not necessarily make them right. I'm arguing against the, "You should have to earn that [blah] that you can completely legitimately acquire in character creation," tact as wrong. Whether or not the GM has that authority is irrelevant to that point.
However, the 'you have to earn that' tact is very much distinct from saying, "That character is not appropriate for this game." After all, if the game's a desert adventure, the pirate with all her points, assets, and abilities tied into her ship is not going to be appropriate. There are many, many valid reasons to reject a character. Mechanics the GM's not comfortable with, books the GM doesn't have, things that are just plain broken, characters who don't fit with the group, all of these are valid reasons. 'You should earn that' regarding something that can legitimately be obtained within the agreed-upon character-creation guidelines? Not legitimate, regardless of whether the GM has that authority.
I didn't mean questing for what one wants in a strictly XP way. There's a reason people play heroes or villains. They have motives. Nobody wants to play a game as a Wal-Mart employee who has nothing else going on other than greeting customers.
Essentially, I'm saying that roleplaying is going out for what you want. Even in BESM, characters still have plans and dreams.
And there are many, many characters and motives and stories, at many, many points. That you start off with some level of achievement does not mean you have everything you want, nor that you are out of stories. If you're telling a story of the king, his great general, and his most trusted archmage adviser, this level of achievement does not mean they are out of stories, desires, or motivations. It simply means they have a very different set of stories, desires, and motivations than they would have if they were starting out as a young prince, a common soldier, and a studious apprentice.
I'm aware Katina is unfamiliar with this system. I've been informed on that matter. However feeling insulted when someone has a discussion about powergamers and doesn't even so much as insinuate someone is a powergamer does make me leery.
It is your very definition of powergamer and your treatment of the topic that offend, and it is a topic that transcends this specific system. The way you define 'powergamer' engulfs pretty much everyone who makes characters that start with a significant and unusual degree of achievement, which is inherently insulting to those of us who like to have characters who start out with a significant and unusual degree of achievement.
I tend to be leery of a group loaded up with nothing but glass cannons (haha! Look at what I can do. I can control all of creation. Ack. Papercut. I am dead.). This makes the game swingy, since anything we can't instantly wipe the floor with can instantly wipe the floor with us. True in D&D, and Exalted both.
Oh, I love glass cannon groups, especially in D&D. Level 1. 3d8+1d6+6 damage with the big friggin' sword. Twelve AC. I don't know how this fight'll go, but I promise it'll be short.
Particularly in PbP, fights that drag on tend to get pretty boring, and in PbP D&D, 'drag on' tends to set in around round two, so I prefer to have characters, groups, and encounters geared to end before round two. And I'm of the school that a fight between masters should be decided with a single stroke.