Munchkining in Open Legend


I have always found these types of discussions to be fascinating. The very concept of munchkining in an Open Legend game seems self defeating. The rules were created to allow for options, so you could play the type of character you wanted, without the need for hunting into splat books for a race that matches your idea, or a class that is actually flavorful and mechanically like your character head-canon, as you are forced to in some other games.

From the Introduction to Open Legend “What Defines Open legend”:

“Open Legend is a game designed for players who want enough rules to make a game fair, but not so many that the rules interfere with the fun or imagination. Open Legend provides a way to make sure that the game is balanced while adjusting the story of character abilities on the fly. The rules should be robust, but their only value is in telling a story.”

I browse these forums looking for interesting topics, and keep seeing the same type of -here’s a couple dozen pages of rules I made so that people can/can’t be specifically told exactly what they should/shouldn’t can/can’t do.-

I’ve seen issues with dice explosions, Bane attacks not being as good, average roll # theory crafting, etc.
With regards to the idea that Bane Attacks are not as good because you could do the damage, I would offer that not all characters are into crushing faces. Maybe the character does some other cool stuff, or isn’t into overt violence. It is really cool that you can do a lot of damage, but what benefit are you adding to the game, to the story, to the world.

As a GM I am always more powerful than you, without fail, in every single instance when players and a GM sit down at a table, but I’m not attempting to make the most destructive NPC who can one-shot you.

So why are you?

To Players: I would challenge everyone who is breaking out their magnifying glasses, calculators, and munchkin theorycrafting blogs to instead attempt to create an interesting character, with campaign relevant quirks, cool back story, and multi-dimensional personality. That can actually be a challenge.

To the GMs: Those of you who are using OL to play a combat sim, just trying to throw big monsters at their parties, and are annoyed that the party could one shot it, I challenge you to instead come up with interesting ways to challenge your parties in other ways. How is the terrain? Perhaps some skill checks are required. Perhaps Obi-Wan has the high ground, and you shouldn’t try it anyway. Maybe the ability that the boss has can’t be learned from a jedi, and his power is not just physcial but rather he is the senate. Maybe there’s some important story reason that they can’t just jump on the backs of flying eagles and drop the mcguffin into a volcano.

People love to watch streams of GMs, are big fans of content creators with names that rhyme with Wrathew Wrercer, and that content is compelling because it is not just 4 people moving their PCs on a grid and comparing how big their dice rolls are.

According to Brian: “we designed Open Legend to focus on the fun rather than the homework”. I would like to challenge all of us to share the fun, awesome, cool, and different aspects of gaming that Open legend frees us to find.


As a player I like optimizing. I come up with an idea, and then want to make a character that is good at that. I like the aspect of the game. For me it is part of the fun to make something optimized. I the DM has to up to level of the monsters that gives me an indication that I have been succesfull. Gaming the game in itself is for me a fun part of the game.
That doesn’t mean the character doesn’t have a backstory. For me it doesn’t even mean that the character deals a lot of damage, I have made optimised healers, optimised protectors or talkers.
In the end for a lot of people playing a different character is a kind of power fantasy. I want to play a character that does something better than me, that experiences cool adventures that I would never, that is one of the protagonist. Of course I want my character to be powerful.
(Btw, maybe its me just reading into your text, but it sort of feels like you are saying my fun is wrong, and that focussing on roleplaying is “better” )

As a DM I would be annoyed if my monster gets one-shotted because I want to challenge my players. Combat is a part of my games, if the monsters just die if the players look at it, its not a fun part. Off course you can think outside the box with abilites or situations, but hit points and attacks are also part of it. And it’s not like the streaming GM’s are not spending lots of time trying to get their monsters right.
I don’t know if you know the other Mat? Coville runs a far more wargames orientated game than Mercer, but still has a big following

I think why you are seeing a lot of the theorycrafting here, is because it is something that you can actually discuss, something that has some structure to it. It is hard for people to give feedback on backgrounds, as they are so personal, but it easy to explain how your character can do more damage. People might do a lot of the things you say players should be doing, but its just not that sharable. (If I would be sharing my characters I would just feel like I’m asking for shoulderpats about how cool my backstory is).

This a forum for OL. What makes OL different than all other RPG’s? The rules. In most RPGs you can have cool backgrounds and multi-dimensional backgrounds, it’s not specific for OL. So I’m not surprised that on an OL forum there is a lot of rule discussion.

And lastly, now you have made a topic, seeming to adres a “problem”.
Maybe make a topic “share your backgrounds”, or a topic “how do you make an encounter harder without changing the monster”, or “share your world”. That way the munchkins can do their munchkining, without hurting you, and the multidimensional characters can exist in peaceful co-existence.

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Hey Mork,

Thanks for the response. I think you and I would get along splendidly. Everything you say above is spot on.

The issue I have seen is mostly “I was trying to munchkin, I succeeded, and now I want to change the rules because I think they are broken”. If there is a game where the GM and the players are on board with a challenging, highly optimized style of play, I think that is excellent! As you said, in that case, the party can have multiple highly optimized roles, and the GM better have a good idea of how to handle that. Just because someone found a particularly optimal way of doing something, does not mean it is broken. It means he’s really good.

These are awesome conversations. I want more.

It seems I came off as soft, offended, and a bit butthurt, which is unfortunate, but a little to be expected, I’d say. That was not exactly what I was getting at. Rather, in my estimation, Open Legend, because of the openness of it’s rules, can be what would be described as “exploited” in other systems. But in Open Legend the optimization is not a problem to be fixed, it’s all built in. Combat is swingy, options are endless, and explosions can change the course of a event. A number of things that would otherwise require many pages of legalese, and would not cover all the possible scenarios anyway, are left to the players and GM fiat, because it is more fun and interesting to have options than constraints. I think people are very used to having the limits clearly spelled out, and when they aren’t there it can be confusing.

Anyways, I hope to see fewer “problems with X” posts and more “How to Solve Against X”. Then again, maybe I’m just being pedantic.

Have fun! (because if you aren’t, you’re doing it wrong)