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Beowulfthehunter

Is D&D 3.5 that Munchkin?

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In another post some one mentioned that it is so easy to muchkin out (create power builds) with the 3.5 system. Now I started gaming back with normal D&D (back when Elf, Halfling, and Dwarves where classes!) and then I moved on to AD&D 2nd (can you say THAC0?). Back when I was a GM I noticed that many of my players wanted to use prestige classes and other power builds from the various manuals. Now with the new edition I see no real difference in that new rules same potential for loop holes.

 

My question is this....who just like playing with the Core books? I am the type of player who simply likes the baiscs and fleshes out his character not with tons of rules and modifications but with actual imagination. For example my 1st level Paladin has Weapon Focus not because I want to hit harder and better but becasue he has been using the same sword since his mother first taught him to wield it correctly. Does the core book provide easy Muchkin builds or is it because everyone is bringing in every rule expansion known to man?

 

Lastly am I the only gamer who likes to play flawed characters? I have more fun playing characters with average stats then a character with all 18s or better yet I like the thought of brigning in a character with a single low stat just because.

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I began playing D&D when it was only 1st edition. So that tells you a bit about how long I have played.

 

I almost ALWAYS have some major flaw in my characters. I had one character that had an 18/00 strength, but only a 3 intelligence. He was dumb as a brick, but could hit like no tomorrow when you got him pointed in the right direction..and darn that boy could cook! Don't know how, but he could cook really well.

 

I do enjoy the odd power character, but there is always a story behind the prestige classes and the selection. I feel that a well fleshed out character is much more fun to play than someone that is designed to kick butt and take names. It just makes you use your brain a lot mroe.

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My gaming group just uses the core rulebooks and we've been playing with this campaign for a couple of years now. There was that slight bump with the 3.5 upgrade but it really didn't have much of an impact upon the game itself. The group of players I run the game for are much more into the storyline than into going around killing everything they see. The monsters they face are either from the Monster Manual or roughly based on some stats from in there. There really isn't a need for 72 books of monsters that noone has ever heard of just to surprise the party. My players know that just because they have seen a goblin before doesn't mean that it will act the same as the last dozen. There are different tribes with different skills as well as different goals and motivations. Not every skeleton animated is the same. How powerful was the necromancer that created it? Was it the same old raise dead spell or something different? I've found that all the expansion books have done is try to throw in some extra skills/feats/spells so that people can make a 'unique' character when all they really need to do for that is decide who their character is and roleplay them. This is after all a roleplaying game isn't it?

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I think it's the eternal struggle between those who enjoy playing their character and those who want to 'win'. For the ones who want to role play they're going to find some way of making their character interesting as opposed to unstoppable. The ones who want to 'win' are going to attempt to exploit every loophole they can find so they always beat the monster/win the encouter/generally make the game more boring.

 

The GM needs to set the rules on what will and will not be allowed. I believe it's pretty common for the GM to state they have to approve using anything from the splat books so there's a level playing field.

 

I'm in a D&D3.5 game right now and there have been a few (no longer in the game) players who created characters that were overpowered and out of balance with the rest of the game. Personally I found it boring to play with them - not only were their characters physically different and caused problems in that respect but the way they built them they were unstoppable. So we all became background to them.

 

WoTC may go overboard with the prestige classes and oddities they put out. But they're trying to keep their franchise growing so I'm not going to blame them. Even they say you need nothing more than the three core books to play. Everything else is optional.

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I harken back to the days of playing the Elf class as well, and have been an active D&D player since 5th grade when I was 10. 22 years of playing all the varous incarnations, and buying most of the splat books later...

 

It's really easy to powergame and munchkin in D&D, since 2nd edition. Back then you could take uber weapon proficiencies and get "Kits" for all kinds of crazy special abilities, which were the precursor to the current Prestige Class.

 

It's really up to the DM to limit what can and can't happen, and the player to develop a character and reasons behind their choices.

 

In one of my groups, it is very combat driven, so if you try to make a character that isn't geared towards combat, you're really going to sit around and be bored. Fortunately, the couple of players that were the heavy combat nuts have phased out, so we're going to go to a more character driven and role playing campaign, which I personally love.

 

Creating characters with flaws, and not obvious ones is a blast. It's also one of the things that drives me nuts about AD&D in the current incarnation. They place the emphasis on combat. Most feats are combat based. They over emphasize Strength and Con to the n-th degree and totally ignore Charisma. Even when they talk about creating new Races with Ability Score Adjustments - +1 Str or +1 Con = -2 Int/Wis/Cha.

 

Umm, what? That would work if it's a 100% combat based system, but it shouldn't be. It's also why I think Half-Orcs get the ultimate hack job as a PC race.

 

Part of the game is working the numbers, so the character is viable, but most of it is so much about playing hte character for me. And coming up with why the character has their specific faults.

 

One of my favorite characters was an elven fighter. I drove my friends nuts with him. I played him like that cocky, pretty boy HS football quarterback. I put his good stats in Dex, Con and Cha. Wis and Int were single digits. Strength was like a 12. Everyone was like, why are you putting the 18 you rolled into Charisma, he's an elven fighter, make that his strength, but it was part of my character concept. I also did not take Weapon Finesse even though it would make sense and my primary weapon was a Longsword. He was also fun because he was so Charismatic that in every encounter, people would start dealing with him, and I would just screw stuff up royally, because he was a total tool. Unfortunately he died at 5th level after an unfortunate incident involving a dying wyvern. Got nailed with the poison and it weakened him enough that when the ranger shot it out of the sky, I failed a gimme Reflex save (one of those - don't roll a 1 or 2) to avoid being the crash site. :angry:

 

Another character I retired was a Half Orc Fighter/Barbarian when he got to 10th level. His charisma was atrocious, because it really is an obvious dump stat for Fighters, but the reason I used was because he had one horrific scar along the left half of his face and lost an eye, which he refused to wear a patch to cover. And he had slight "anger issues." Strength was good because of being a half orc, but I hosed his Dex and Wis on purpose. Gave my best 2 stats to Con and Int. I didn't want to play a totally mindless Fighter and ate the Intelligence penalties. Because he was blind on his left side I would purposefully ignore a lot of the combat on that side unless the party started calling for help, and would often make it a point to kill whatever was on my right first. I'd skip Attacks of Opprtunity for people crossthing through the threatened space on my left because he lacked the peripheral vision to see them, etc. Even though I had Spot as a class skill with Barbarian, I refused to put any significant ranks in it. Why bother, the guy was blind, he's supposed to be pretty useless at seeing stuff. But I put a lot into Listen because of compensation with hearing.

 

You can do a lot with the system, but it all depends on how you as a DM and your group as PC's want to act.

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When role playing, rules are irrelevant.

 

Yes, that's right.

 

With 3.xe, you can have a perfectly good RPing session and NEVER touch the dice. I know, I've ran a few (under Fading Suns D20, a game one might want to mine for feats that have an RPing impact rather than a combat one).

 

Personally, I'm GLAD that D20 has such a robust combat engine, one that rewards tactics, rather than a point n' grunt roll-the-dice engine some of the "superior RPing" games have. You don't NEED to use the engine, but its there if you want it.

 

The real impact on the game (and others have hinted at this) is not the game itself, but the players. One of the fun challenges I like to make is to take a game that is traditionally RP heavy, and make completely broken combat characters out of it. Can do it in every game I've seen yet.

 

Damon.

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So, yeah, it's easily possible to produce twinked-out-to-the-nines characters in D&D. Heck, I know a few people who roll initial stats via "roll 4d6, drop the lowest and reroll ones, seven times, and use the best six scores." Which is insane.

 

And, in the right light, I don't mind it. Joined a group for a few months that was in the tail end of a long-running campaign...I think it was 16th level or so. It was high-magic, high-combat, light-rule enforcement, so there were munchkins like crazy around that table. So I built a lizardfolk ranger/pyrokineticist with a harness of etherealness and ghost-touch arrows. And, since I didn't know what the campaign really was when I started, I made up two favored enemies as we went along, assigning them on-the-fly. He was dealing upwards of 50 points of damage with one arrow, and never took more than five points of damage in a combat. And I wasn't the worst offender, as we were taking down CR 23 creatures as a regular matter of course. But, I was pleased by the fact that this character of mine had a fleshed-out backstory, a reason for joining the party, and, with a little stripping of power-items, would be playable in another campaign (provided monster races and psionics were allowed). I was nearly the only one for whom that was true.

 

I do like playing the numbers game with my characters. I like to find the best ability/skill/feat combos possible. But, I've already played a ranger/pyrokineticist...I won't likely put another one together anytime soon. We all know a fighter with high STR and Power Attack, Weapon Focus, and Cleave is a massively powerful juggernaut, and that's one of the most efficient "twinks" available...but I'd rather play a munchkin with some roleplayability.

 

The story is what's fun. Being able to breeze through combat merely expedites the plot. :devil:

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When role playing, rules are irrelevant.

 

Yes, that's right.

 

With 3.xe, you can have a perfectly good RPing session and NEVER touch the dice. I know, I've ran a few (under Fading Suns D20, a game one might want to mine for feats that have an RPing impact rather than a combat one).

 

Personally, I'm GLAD that D20 has such a robust combat engine, one that rewards tactics, rather than a point n' grunt roll-the-dice engine some of the "superior RPing" games have. You don't NEED to use the engine, but its there if you want it.

 

The real impact on the game (and others have hinted at this) is not the game itself, but the players. One of the fun challenges I like to make is to take a game that is traditionally RP heavy, and make completely broken combat characters out of it. Can do it in every game I've seen yet.

 

Damon.

 

Good points and all very true.

 

It is the players -and the GM of course- that drives the feel of the game, not the system. That said, I tend to avoid 3.5/d20 like the plague (except when writing or playtesting for pulsighed adventures, which is seldom, and then only with the core SRD rules). It's not because "It's so munchkin-y", it's because I don't like "There's a rule for everything" games. I prefer to leave more to the imagination and/or the GM's discretion. It's true that you can play 3.X "fast and loose", but at what point are you still playing the same game?

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The story is what's fun. Being able to breeze through combat merely expedites the plot. :devil:

That's it in a nutshell!

 

We have three shelves full of D&D 3.5 books, as I'm one of the types who likes to look for neat tricks to combine for character types. This grew out of being in a campaign that was entirely combat-driven, with a story that was primarily used to glue the combats together. We tired of that, and quit the campaign...

 

...but the need to try for "killer combos" stuck. I wouldn't post my combinations to the WotC "character optimization" board, but getting the best bang for the buck becomes part of the fun. One thing I enjoy doing is taking a feat that looks good for powergaming reasons and turning it into backstory for a character. Forgotten Realms background feats, if your DM lets you use them, can be particularly good for helping develop character background stories.

 

So I guess I'd say... munchkin out to your heart's content, but turn those munchkinny details into something you can roleplay with -- it's more fun that way.

 

 

On the flip side, it's also entirely possible to create a character that is completely useless for combat *and* role-playing, if your DM makes you roll-play when you role-play. As in... at the end of your long, role-played discussion with the NPC, the DM *still* makes you roll a Diplomacy check... and abides by the crappy result and essentially ignores all of the good bits you just role-played.

 

 

End result? The levels of munchkinning and roleplaying totally depend on the group. And they're not necessarily mutually exclusive.

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I'm an old head. I remember having way more fun in 1st edition. Maybe it's just being old and crotchety, but 3.5 just seems bogged down in remembering what numbers to stack. We played one good campaign with emphasis on the roleplaying and story, which was really good. Our current group is more about monster bashing, so I'm sure that is the crux of it.

 

Maybe I'll have to give Warhammer Fantasy Roleplay a bash. It seems a lot darker and more perilous.

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WFRP is a blast! Definitely fun to play...

 

joshuaslater, while you may look at 3.5 and think with distain what numbers stack, I look at 1e with bewilderment about what die to roll. So I make a grapplecheck and roll...a d8? What modifiers do I use? What die do I roll for surprise? I've played every edition of D&D back to...D&D! I would NEVER, EVER, EVER go back to an earlier edition, least of which 1e. Recently in my group, we discussed a nostalgia campaing using 1e. Despite having almost all the 1e books, I advised I would not participate. It would be like going back to a Model T after driving my Maxima...

 

Damon.

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We've run a campaign for nigh on two years with just the 3.5 core rules. The group has everything covered from a concept player (Barbarian Cartographer) to a rules-memorizing munchin (min-maxed sorceror) and everyone is having fun. If a system can handle that, then it's done something right.

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Personally, as a DM, I do not care if my players have uber characters. They love it. Roll lots of dice and add lots damage. Bring it. As DM I love building bad-@$$ bad guys and monsters. I really don't care how tough the PC's are because my monsters are always super tough too.

 

Example: We're playing Against the Giants 3.5 right now. My PCs are all pretty much giant slaying uber characters. They're 12 level. Against giants most of their AC's are in the 30's and they're dishing out 20-30 points of damage. In their next combat they will be facing a 19HD red dragon, a 12th level Hill Giant Cleric, and a 12th level Drow Fighter/Rogue (in the open field if they aren't careful.) They are going to need every munchkin trick they know just to survive.

 

MWAH-AHAHAHAHAH!

 

And I let them roll 4d6, reroll 1's, take best 3 for stats. Why not? It's fun! This gives above average stats, but you can still get a couple stinkeroos in there.

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Umm, what? That would work if it's a 100% combat based system, but it shouldn't be. It's also why I think Half-Orcs get the ultimate hack job as a PC race

 

Too true, Qwyk! Toooo true!

 

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 like quirky characters, characters with flaws and characters who don't jump right into the game willing to share their entire life story and agenda with three other characters they JUST met in some inn or other.

 

If you want to have fun, try building a multi-class type character where the levels are not divided equally among classes. According to The Rules, you are supposed to take a hit on XP. So I have a half orc ranger who reeeally wanted to be a cleric but lacked the .. um... what is it you call that thing you do with your head?

 

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.

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I roll with a pretty good group, and the best darn DM I've ever had the pleasure of gaming with.

 

I'm playing a relatively quirky character right now, a human barbarian whose WIS and CHA scores are well above average, especially considering the fact that he's an overmuscled guy dressed in furs and lugging a greataxe around. Plus, instead of Chaotic Neutral, I chose to make him Chaotic Good. So I play him as being generous, friendly, and as having a bit of a philosophical streak. So he's not the usual overmuscled lunkhead.

 

A couple examples of how Brauron the Barbarian acts:

 

The inn we're staying at is burned down by a Magmin summoned by an evil cleric, planning to immolate us and prevent us from meddling in his business. Immediately and without hesitation, I go over to where Gabrielle, the innkeeper, is sobbing into her apron and empty the pouch containing the gp, sp and cp I'd looted from a dozen goblins I'd killed into her hands, telling her it was to aid in the rebuilding. And those were some rich goblins, it worked out to about 50gp worth of coin altogether. I'm sure there'll come a time in the near future where I'll wish I had 50gp on me, but I won't regret giving it to her.

 

A bit later, we (the elf wizard played by the DM's girlfriend -- right now, we're the entire party) were talking to Lilgen, a wizened old NPC who'd been an adventurer decades earlier, gathering information. The elf had been surly (the elf often is, and Brauron often finds himself apologizing to NPCs for the elf's behavior) and as we walked away from Lilgen (who I'd made friends with the night before, playing a couple rounds of a game of chance with him and swapping stories about killing goblins) I told the elf that I didn't know what sort of manners they teach in elfland, but where I come from we're taught to respect our elders.

 

"Elders? I'm older than Lilgen will ever grow to be." said the elf.

 

"Years are not what's important. Wisdom gathered from a life well-spent is. You've done nothing but sit and read your entire life, Lilgen's travelled the world, seen and done things you and I can probably barely imagine. For that, you should respect him." I replied.

 

The elf (the elf's bad behavior prevents us from referring to it by name, and it's ambiguously gendered, hence the lack of a gendered pronoun) also doesn't do much. Mostly because the person playing the elf doesn't like her boyfriend's DMing style and often sits and sulks, or declares that they are attacking harmless, non-threatening NPCs. The elf tried to extort a healing potion from a local cleric after I'd already agreed to pay for it.

 

So I think it's the players, more than the mechanic, that Munchkin the game, and/or make the game fun/unpleasant. Certainly the elf's player is often unpleasant to play with, and if the DM wasn't so amazing, and the other players (when they're able to play) weren't so much fun, I'd probably end up quitting the group. She's thrown tantrums over the fact that my character has more XP than hers does (because my character acts instead of sulking), over the fact that the other players get along with me better than they do with her, etc.

 

Though perhaps she was right to be grumpy when, after the elf decided to be POINTY-EARED, CURLY-SHOED, NO-GOOD, STINKING, ETHNOCENTRIST and insult my culture, my tribe and my own greatly-missed deceased mother, I smacked the elf upside the head with the flat of my greataxe, knocking the elf unconscious and leaving it in that state for six hours.

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