Wednesday, October 29, 2014


Took me just a few minutes this morning to find this.  It's from a forum on, dated nov 19, 2002.

"Hi, my name is Eric and I'm a munchkin.

"I admit it. Freely. I've designed characters around a kickass weapon or combination of Feats that allow me to do bucketloads of damage. Heck, I've built combat monsters and then come up with personalities later. I've designed supers characters to get a massive bang-for-my-buck. In a choice between a really heavy mech and a light scout, I'll choose the heavy one, and then modify it.

"At heart, being a munchkin is about being cool and kicking ass. If Glitterboys looked like shit but still had a massive weapon, nobody would play them. I wouldn't have made my D&D3e Feats-based combat monster if I hadn't just seen 'Phantom Menace' and watched Darth Maul and his Whirlwind attack. When I watched 'Brotherhood of the Wolf,' all I could think of is that I wanted to play an ass-kicking French naturalist and then butcher 25 barbarian-gypsies in an orgy of vengeance and knife-wielding mayhem.

"It's not about small penis size. It's not about 'getting one over' on the other players, or hating the GM, or wanting to derail the game. It's about being badass, cool, like all of those characters in all of those movies that you watch.

"The cool thing about munchkins - they really have passion. If the GM tries to shut them down, it becomes adversarial, but if a confident GM rolls with the munched characters it can be fun, because the PC is a) something the player cares about and b) offers the player a certain amount of security. He's confident in his character because it's cool, badass, and won't get killed by a stray knife hit - just like Clint Eastwood."

Honesty.  It must be appreciated for its own sake.

I have to wonder if Eric is still playing.  I have to wonder if he has changed the tiniest bit.

I quote the above because it serves as an example for what happened with D&D 3.0, when the points skill system was incorporated.  Spawn like the above emerged, as the system made their brand of playing possible.  These people were empowered - and having been empowered, they proceeded to shit gleefully on many a campaign and upon many a player that did not embrace their philosophy.

I contend that the term 'munchkin' originated with the Steve Jackson game of the same name, a not-too-bright card-based rpg substitute that nevertheless reflected a certain attitude that suggested the problem with rpgs was all the fucking roleplaying.  The game has been very successful.  Steve Jackson, some of you will remember, is the inventor of GURPS, the rpg system that taught the people who owned D&D how to piss all over themselves.

Much complaining was heard in the 1980s from the type of player that was as yet the munchkin unborn - players who chafed at the class-based system, as it did not allow them the 'freedom' they needed to be really terrific dicks at the gaming table.  Being the loudest, most obnoxious people imaginable, they of course would ultimately get their own way and the entire structure and function of the game would be altered in order to, as I say, empower them.

I hate point-based purchase-driven game mechanics.  They are based on the philosophy that 'freedom' is the equivalent of buying your way into whatever set up personally appeals to you, especially if that means the 'freedom' to maul or spit on the passion or enjoyment of other people.

'Freedom' is the construction site around a 60-story office tower that shuts down 9th street for 18 months because the makers of the building have enough money to buy the city council - so fuck everyone who now has to drive four blocks out of their way every fucking day.  'Freedom' is a few hundred graft-collecting politicians who decide for the good of a few oil companies that YES, it is important that we expend human bodies again to re-assert our exploitation of Iraq.  'Freedom' is the mother screaming at you at the mall because you've dared to drop the f-bomb within 90 feet of her snowflake-precious child.  'Freedom' is a lot of things.

I have a philosophy that the best play begins when the player has to 'make do' with whatever the player has.  The less freedom the player has to buy their way out of trouble, the better the game becomes.  I firmly believe that adhering to a class, and the limitations as well as the opportunities provided by that class, compels the player to step outside the mechanics of the game and innovate from the creative perspective.  The less a player can buy, the less that player can rely upon their dice and their power to get them out of trouble.  This encourages a greater reliance upon other players, which in turn helps build the party as a unified force that supports one another.

Munchkins seek to buy the game.  People who support buying mechanics support munchkins.  I think many would-be designers don't know that's what they're doing.

But they are.