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Beowulfthehunter

Is D&D 3.5 that Munchkin?

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Playing toward uber-stats or prestige classes is fine if that's all you want out of a game, but IMHO when building a character takes on the scope of planning a career, the fun's all over.

 

I'll agree with this; and to clarify my earlier post, I'll mention that, while I enjoy munchkining to a certain extent, I generally do it only when a)building a character to start at high level or b)building a character for the sake of building a character. If starting a campaign at first level, I will certainly make the best low-level character I can, but I won't have his entire feat tree and level list planned out through twentieth. Too much can happen, roleplay-wise.

 

But you know..the REAL trouble with D&D3.5 (and threepio for that matter) is that NOBODY EVER GETS HURT! I mean, of course you get wounded in battle, but what with Potions of CLW available on tap at every corner shop and what with there being no real mechanism for long-term healing of broken or mangled appendages, PCs just go picking fights with anything that'll fight 'em with no real concern over losing an arm or an eye.

 

"It's always fun until you lose an eye"

 

Face it, if the game were a bit more founded in gritty reality and a bit less founded in fulfilling geeks' aspirations toward invincibility, then there would be ALOT LESS 20th level players.

 

I agree with this, too, but that's why I also like games like WHFR and the (not current edition) World of Darkness stuff from WhiteWolf (though neither as much as D&D). Those games are geared toward character death and/or insanity and are a constant struggle to prevent said occurrence. D&D, on the other hand, is a game that encourages and rewards heroic characters...it's the general "purpose" to the game, the reason behind its rules.

 

And if you don't like that, you can certainly adjust that part of the gameworld. Limit players' access to healing; make it more difficult to rest. Strictly enforce the rules for when a cleric must pray for spells. Increase the cost of magical healing. Toss the party in a dungeon with no way out for days. Even the last option has a lot of roleplay-oriented possibilities.

 

And if you're still not convinced, pick up Unearthed Arcana and use some of the alternate rules for healing, AC, and damage.

 

Oh, and of course, don't forget the oft-overlooked rule of Death by Massive Damage. That would kill off a lot of people if it were used more often.

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We played 18 months "any WotC book" to fully give Wizard's 3.5 system a fair shake and to see it for all its warts and all its glories... it had its moments. However, it - as has been said before on this forum - stopped being about characters and became more about "builds." .... 18 fun months, but all the best memories of the game were from the roleplay events, not how many attacks per round the rogue had.

 

...we now use only the 3 core books.

 

In our games, we are much more likely to grant +1 to +4 bonuses (Circumstance) for good roleplay.... Describe your action? +2 ... describe it well? +4.. come up with somatic gestures and a few magical mumbo jumbo words for your spells and always use the same ones.. +4 to the DC of the spell's save or +4 to the ranged touch attack etc. etc. etc.

 

We've discovered that a lowly +2 (or +4) applied regularly as a reward for roleplay, tends to both make the game better overall as well as soften the blow of no longer being able to get 15 attacks in a single round as a free action while the enemy is flat footed... or whatever.

 

Examples:

Player 1 is playing a warrior, describes her action as "I draw my sword, rush into battle against the [Monster], slashing it across the chest." .. +2 Circumstance Bonus... it's a lot better than moving a miniature to base-contact and saying "I attack" - an then rolling a die.

 

Player 1 describes it as "I draw my sword, advancing against the [Monster]. I wait for him to strike, sidestepping the blow and delivering a slash to its unguarded back as it staggers off balance." ... +4. A well described scene with some choreography in it!

 

Player 2 describes casting a fireball spell as ... "I move up, and say the words 'I call upon fire to engulf you all in a fireball!' and cast Fireball at this square." +2

 

Player 2 describes casting a fireball spell as ... "I see an opening in the ranks of [monsters], reach into my spell pouch for a tiny ball of bat guano and sulpher saying the words "I call upon fire to engulf you all in a fireball!" and throw the tiny ball at the floor behind the third [monster]"... uses the spell components in the roleplay description and incorporated the target point into it also.. . +4 to the DC of the spell for any monster trying to save against it.

 

Reward Roleplay with Roll-play and it always works best. ;)

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I have played with munchkins in both 3.0 and 3.5. Our group found the easiest way to deal with them (well one DM in particular) was 'if you can do it I can do it'.

There is nothing more humbling than having an entire 15th level party wiped out by a 12th level kobold sorcerer. (it was partly tactical flaws, but mostly the same spalls and feat combos that our sorcerer was using on our enemies)

 

I prefer somewhat above average characters with a balance stat (dump stat): Chaotic Neutral Half-Ogre Barbarian Fighter with 22 STR or more (it was a bit ago so I con't remember the exact number) and a CHA that was doubled by the Rod of Splendor (the rod does not normally double that stat, thats how low she was, yup a 4). The rest of the stats were normal, 12, 14, types. Great at some things, suck at others....BUT thats why she didn't adventure alone.

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I started playing back in first edition and feel it is the players, not the game that is broken. My first group was munchkinism taken to an extreme level-the lowest stat was a 17 charisma and if you couldn't do at least 500-600 hundred points of damage a round you were completely worthless. Inititive was basically who could yell the loudest....

Nothing changed with 3rd edition.

Some of the groups I've met have every third party munchin splat books ever created and almost every feat book that they make liberal use of. Sometimes they even realize that you have to take the prerequisits...but they usually ignore pesky details like that.

Later, I gamed with a low power group much more to my speed who followed the rules and had a point system to create charecters. Sadly, they don't play anymore.

PS-Spike and Qwick, half-orcs do get the shaft, "Bastards & Bloodlines" has the half-hobgoblin +2 Dec, +2 Con and a -2 Chr.

 

It's not the game, it's the players.....

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In one of my groups, we gave Half Orcs, in addition to their usual stuff:

+2 Survival

+2 Intimidate - Special - Half Orc can use Strength as a Modifier for Intimidate instead of Charisma.

+2 Fortitude

 

And changed the ability modifiers to +2 Str, -1 Int, -1 Cha

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Quote: +2 Intimidate - Special - Half Orc can use Strength as a Modifier for Intimidate instead of Charisma.

 

Normally if you show your STR you can do this in our games. I have a fairly twinkerific Halfling with Monkey grip and a Medium Greatsword, she just uses STR instead of CHA.

 

Even if someone twinks out a portion of thier character you can still get good role-playing out of them, as long as they are willing to role-play normally.

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I actually think one of the best thigns about 1st edition D&D was the fact that the rule system was so broken. There were so many things htat didn't really seem to work right. It created an atmosphere in which players and DMs actively worked to achieve a semblance of plausibility. We tweaked and we tweaked constantly. So, the possibility of gaining a statistical advantage just didn't have as much significance. Today, the expectation is that the official rules will work so completely on their own that any advantage you get through munchkin powers will be ironclad. In 1st edition, the rules were often changing in any given venue and I at least never hesitated to restore balance one way or another. It changed the foucs of play.

 

Also, as I recall the creative emphasis was different. In first edition, as a DM if I wanted to make a monster. I decided how much damage I wanted tit to do. I could just decide it's 2d6+6 in damage. In 3.5 you calculate, strength, size, BAB, ability modifiers, etc., all of which takes time and energy. I think those of us who like to think more in terms of storyline were more attacted to the earlier approach whereas the number crunching of 3.5 attracts a different kind of player, just as creative, but the creativity is in the manipulation of game mechanics. I think if someone is willing to spend that much time crunching numbers as opposed to generating a narrative, it should come as no surprise that they will see the pay-off largely in their ability to crunch the numbers for effect.

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There's a reason not many people play the old editions. Pine for them all you want, time has softened the glaring inefficiencies of the system.

 

Using the mechanics to build characters or monsters gives everybody a somewhat level playing field. Sure, some things are beter than others, but at least it gives you a starting point.

 

More options are always good. The DM should still be the final arbiter on what is in their game, despite what sourcebook X says (I'll allow a Warmage, but Spellfire ain't happening).

 

Same goes for players too. I can make up any backstory I want to justify taking something overpowered. Just because you spent 10 minutes thinking up why you should have some benefit doesn't mean you should if it's overpowered.

 

A mechanical bonus for a generic roleplaying line scares me a bit though. I can see that abused more by power-gamers than anyone else, sometimes you DO just run up and hit the monster...

 

So, to answer the origional questions...

 

Give me more than core. Again, more options is better than less. If something in a later book fits what I want to do, why not use it?

 

Yes, the core rules provide enough for 'Munchkin builds'. That's not exclusive to D&D 3.x though, despite what it's detractors constantly claim.

 

Playing flawed characters is fine, as long as they contribute. Heck, I once played a Halfling whose best tactic was often to run (yes, he had the Run feat) from one side of combat to the other, drawing Attacks of Opportunity from his foes so that they were used up when the other players acted.

 

The 'single low stat' is often a throw away. Sure, your Fighter may have a 6 Intelligence or Charisma, whoopity doo da. Put that 6 in Strength or Constitution, then we'll talk. I've seen it done once effectively, alongside my aformentioned Halfling (and technically it was a Fighter/Rogue with a 12 Strength and an 8 Constitution). It took the help of the entire party to keep him alive, aided by the fact we had 2 Clerics for the majority of the campaign, and he still died a couple of times (and it ended when we were 9th level).

 

We use point buy now, so there is no chance anyone will end up with "all 18's". In that respect I can agree with you, we had some (former) players who used 'fuzzy math' when rolling their characters (or who used a computer program to roll 100 times until they got stats they wanted).

 

----------

Additional musing...

 

Many 'twink' builds look better than they are anyway. I had a player who used Monkey Grip to weild a Huge Greatspear. Sure, he did 3d6 (+strength) damage on a hit. However he used 2 feats top do that and took a -2 penalty to hit all the time. Using the 'core rules' with Power Attack (for the same -2 to hit in exchange for +4 damage) and a Greatsword gives you 2d6 +4 (+strength). Both give you the same average damage per hit and the latter only 'costs' one feat (plus, it gives you the option of not taking a penalty to hit when you really need it). Sure, the Huge Greatspear does 18 points max damage and the Power Attack Greatsword only does 16 max damage, but on the other hand the Huge Greatspear only does a minimum of 3 vs. a minimum of 6. Monkey Grip is often bemoaned as broken and twinkish, it's not that good and in play (especially the way I DM) it was downright ineffective.

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I am getting into this post a little after the fact, but I wanted to mention something for everyone who is in that boat of "I miss that old group; I haven;t been able to find a decent group since" or "I cant stand the way my currect powergaming group all have 22 strength and the dm makes all the good magic items for his girlfriend's gnome ...."

 

I started playing in the RPGA's Living Greyhawk campaign July of 2005, and I have never looked back. Sure there are powergamers and such there, as everywhere, but the scope of what they are allowed to do is severely hindered by the mechanics of the campaign. Here is a short list:

 

All stats: point buy-28 points. no cheating possible.

 

Same with hit points; Full HP at first level, every level thereafter you take the max of whatever your appropriate hit die is (so 10 for a fighter), cut it in half (so 5) then add 1 (total is six) and add your Con modifier. No cheating, no fuss, no muss; I have almost forgotten what a hit point roll is. Everyone is an absolutely level playing field.

 

Only standard races, with addition of wood elves and gray elves (yes drizzt fans, no drow) Yes, I said no drow. What's that? Yes, you heard me right, no drow (at least, not as characters). You may be gasping in horror, but the campaign has 20,000 players or so worldwide. If drow were allowed there would be 20,000 drow runnign around, as EVERYONE would make at least one drow character, guaranteed.

 

Living greyhawk is played around the world-in virtually every major city in the continental US you can guarantee there will be a group somewhere nearby. Want to go to a geeky Sci-Fi con-there is probably a game there. Going to comic-con; I KNOW there is a large organized game there (that is where I got my start). And no matter where you go, if you walk up to a table and throw down your character sheet, you know that everyone there will be playing the same gameyou are, with the same rules interpretations, options, books allowed; same classes, feats, spells, everything. There is no "the dm wont let you bring that character to the table-he doesn't want any elves in his game", or "wow, your 6th level fighter will NEVER survive in our game with only 52 hit points-my barbarian1/fighter5 has 70 HP, 82 when he rages. And he ALWAYS rages." There might be those who prefer combat or roleplaying more, but the core of the game remains the same.

 

Same with magic items-there is a strict allowance of how much cash is gotten by characters in a game, and access to uber stuff is few and far between.

 

I have meet alot of really great players all aroung my local area; some of which I have even had over my house for games (and I am VERY picky about who I will invite over my house).

 

I know alot of people are turned off by what they might have heard about the RPGA, but I can honestly say that I have met far more interesting and cool people/players in this campaign than I have the kind of gamer that when you see/hear/smell them at a local game store you try to back away slowly without making eye contact (for the love of Bob, PLEASE don't let him tell me about his character....).

 

I was sceptical when I started, but I LOVED old Greyhawk from the first edition days, so I was determined to give it a try.

 

And as I said, I have never looked back.

 

Now, that applpies to this thread in that there are good ways to limit munchkining without sticking to the Core 3 books:

 

Point buys on stats, witnesses for hit point rolls, circumstance modifiers (bonuses AND penalties) for good or bad/lack of roleplaying (although good/bad roleplay circumstance modifiers should as a rule be limited to +2 or -2, and Not Everallowed on attack/damage rolls.)

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Maybe that's why I don't see that many bad players. 32 point buy, full HP first and second level, with 75% of your HD after that. I limit my circumstance bonus' (and penalties) that I give out as well, unless they really deserve it.

 

If drow were allowed there would be 20,000 drow runnign around, as EVERYONE would make at least one drow character, guaranteed.

Don't be so quick to say this, as I said before, sometimes 'twink' builds aren't as powerful than you think. The +2 Level Adjustment for Drow is a BIG drawback. I haven't seen a whiff of a Drow since they made them that +2 LA (origionally they were only a +1 LA). Other than some fanboys, most people will know better (I've seen regular Elves that looks suspiciously like a certain Drow).

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Going back to the questions that started this discussion; I don't think that the core books are too munchkin-able. There certainly are "better" choices from a pure combat perspective, but overall, I find them fairly balanced. However, the addition of extra books completely changes this. I've got friends taking on CR 15+ regularly with level 8-10 characters. They enjoy it, but I don't game with them much anymore...

 

When I DM, I typically limit my players to the core books, with a few modifications (of my own design) and additions (from extra books) that I find appropriate to the setting. For example, in my current campaign, I've allowed one player to be a ninja, from Complete Adventurer, and modified the racial abilities slightly.

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In one of my groups, we gave Half Orcs, in addition to their usual stuff:

+2 Survival

+2 Intimidate - Special - Half Orc can use Strength as a Modifier for Intimidate instead of Charisma.

+2 Fortitude

 

And changed the ability modifiers to +2 Str, -1 Int, -1 Cha

 

Thanks Qwyk! I've been raging-on about that part regarding Imtimidation for a LONG time!

 

Maybe all us hafforcs should start a petition.

 

Oh..wait... we can't write, can we?

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Maybe that's why I don't see that many bad players. 32 point buy, full HP first and second level, with 75% of your HD after that. I limit my circumstance bonus' (and penalties) that I give out as well, unless they really deserve it.

 

If drow were allowed there would be 20,000 drow runnign around, as EVERYONE would make at least one drow character, guaranteed.

Don't be so quick to say this, as I said before, sometimes 'twink' builds aren't as powerful than you think. The +2 Level Adjustment for Drow is a BIG drawback. I haven't seen a whiff of a Drow since they made them that +2 LA (origionally they were only a +1 LA). Other than some fanboys, most people will know better (I've seen regular Elves that looks suspiciously like a certain Drow).

 

 

Sounds like you have a good game going Dragon. 32 point-buy makes some pretty tough characters, but nothing too ridiculous-they still have weaknesses as well as strengths, and generalists can be decent in all regards without totaly dumping at least one stat. I like a 30 point-buy myself; that 28 point-buy reeeeally makes you carefully consider where those points go.

 

As far as the drow thing goes, in a campaign like living greyhawk the +2 level adjustment is meaningless. Tables are organized by average party level (APL). So you take your drow rogue3/ fighter3 (who according to the level adjustment is really 8th level) and sit at an apl 6 table. The only consequence is that you take a while to get to second level.

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Sounds like you have a good game going Dragon.

Too good, unfortunately. My players won't let me leave the DM chair...

 

As far as the drow thing goes, in a campaign like living greyhawk the +2 level adjustment is meaningless. Tables are organized by average party level (APL). So you take your drow rogue3/ fighter3 (who according to the level adjustment is really 8th level) and sit at an apl 6 table. The only consequence is that you take a while to get to second level.

So, in effect, a house rule. That makes all the difference then.

 

That's another thing, sometimes people's house rules interact poorly with non-core stuff (and sometimes core stuff). It seems that they would rather blame WotC than look at their house rules. I was just reading on "another message board" about how broken Monkey Grip was, yet in reading the thread it was broken because they had removed the -2 penalty to hit for using it. Well, I wonder why they think it's broken...

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