A Media Entry – Welcome to Munchkin Land

or, “You might be a munchkin if…”

And herein I let my geek flag fly. I’ve made reference to munchkins in several entries, and not just the hugely successful Steve Jackson series of games. The term “munchkin” usually refers to a certain type of role-player (table-top or live-action) and the term is not very flattering. Munchkins are the bane of GMs and other players alike. For those of you who are following along my re-telling of The Hobbit, this guide may help you identify the characters who have munchkin tendencies.

In my experience, most role-players fall under the following categories –
1) Real Wo/men
2) Actors
3) Crazies
4) Sociopaths
5) Munchkins

Most people exhibit characteristics of different categories.

1) Real wo/men tend to focus more on the “game” part of “role-playing game.” This isn’t necessarily a bad thing. They tend to build solid, sturdy, balanced characters and are generally the backbone of the group as far as gameplay goes. Their interest in role-playing is less, but often they don’t mind not having the story focus on their character anyway.

2) Actors are the people who focus more on the “role-playing” function. This is a type of escapism, or an exercise in collaborative narrative storytelling (for those with a more sociological bent). Their characters are built to add to the story, not add to the damage. Generally though they still make balanced characters but they prefer to have more story focus than combat focus.

3) Crazies are the people who do role-play more than focus on the game, but their focus doesn’t seem to be to drive the story along. Their focus seems to be to drive the other players and the GM crazy. Their characters tend to be unbalanced in so very many ways, but just useful enough the other players won’t actually try to kill them.

4) Sociopaths are actors who are prefer to explore darker aspects of role-playing. Their characters are balanced but generally as dangerous to party members as to antagonists. And again, usually just useful enough, or restrained enough, the rest of the party doesn’t try to kill them off.

5) Munchkins are interested in winning the game. Anyone familiar with role-playing would find this an odd goal since while there are the chances of victory or defeat, the game is generally open-ended, or if there is some kind of victory condition, it’s for the whole party. Munchkins drive everyone crazy, even the crazies.

But general descriptions don’t really tell the whole story. So here’s some handy examples to identify a person’s style of play:

What’s your alignment (and no, evil aligned characters are not allowed)?
1) Real Wo/men – Lawful stupid.
2) Actors – Neutral good.
3) Crazies – Chaotic good.
4) Sociopaths – Chaotic neutral and as close to neutral evil as possible.
5) Munchkins – Chaotic neutral, no matter what’s actually written on the sheet.

Favorite fantasy race:
1) Real Wo/men – Dwarf or human
2) Actors – Half-orc, human, or half-elf
3) Crazies – Halfing or half elf/half dwarf
4) Sociopaths – Elf or human
5) Munchkins – Half-elf or halfing or whatever gives me the most bonuses.

Favorite fantasy class:
1) Real Wo/men – Fighter or Paladin.
2) Actors – Wizards, Clerics or Rangers.
3) Crazies – Sorcerers or Bards.
4) Sociopaths – Necromancers (wizard or cleric) or Rogues.
5) Munchkins – Multi-class all the classes! Fighter/rogue or Bard/sorcerer.

Favorite Attack Mode:
1) Real Wo/men – “Waste ’em with my crossbow,” or head-on charge.
2) Actors – Contemplate the situation, choose targets carefully, attack as needed.
3) Crazies – Drop sword and run at enemy armed with a pretzel stick and skillet.
4) Sociopaths – Drain the enemies’ levels and health and laugh as they beg for mercy.
5) Munchkins – Sneak attack. Duh.

Favorite Defense Mode:
1) Real Wo/men – “Waste ’em with my crossbow,” or head-on charge.
2) Actors – Hang back, put up protective shield if necessary.
3) Crazies – Loudly chant, “You can’t catch me!” and summon some kind of monster to distract the enemy. Typically a porcupine in the face works wonders.
4) Sociopaths – Fade into the shadows and take any attacks of opportunity.
5) Munchkins – Sneak attack. Duh.

Goal for Characters:
1) Real Wo/men – Make the world right through righteous fury.
2) Actors – Grow and evolve in hero role.
3) Crazies – Make the world as surreal as possible.
4) Sociopaths – Become powerful, no matter what the cost or who has to die.
5) Munchkins – Attain godhood, or at least destroy lots of stuff and kill bad guys.

Goal for Players:
1) Real Wo/men – Beat some stuff up, have great combats.
2) Actors – Explore and express different facets of my personality and/or explore different character concepts and the impact of adventuring on those personality types.
3) Crazies – Have fun!
4) Sociopaths – Channel my dark impulses into something fairly benign.
5) Munchkins – Win. Duh. What do you mean I can’t win? If I’ve got the most kills, highest experience points, most money, and best stuff, I’ve won. See?

That’s enough for now.  Hopefully you’ve enjoyed this little window into my geeky, geeky world.  By the way, the porcupine in the face thing actually happened in one of my groups.  I am a writer by habit, an author by ambition, but even I can’t make that kind of stuff up.


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S. J. Drew is an aspiring writer who finally entered the blogosphere to shamelessly promote that writing (as evidenced by the title of the blog). Whether or not this works remains to be seen, but S. J. hopes you are at least entertained. And if you're actually reading this, that's probably a good sign.

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