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7 D&D anti-min-maxing rules

Written by Expy - Published on October 28, 2007

Is your character invincible or immortal?

Did your character sheet morph into a binder of incredible D&D uber-awesomeness? Or worse – did your players’ character sheets increase from 2-pages into hardbound books of deadly skills, feats, and weapons?

It might be time for a few anti-min-maxing rules!

Anti-Min-Maxing Rules

  • When creating characters, roll for attributes harshly: 3d6. You might want to have a pool of re-rolls that is shared by the whole party. Flawed characters are fun. Anemic illiterate wizards suck.
  • Use only the 3 core rulebooks. Is the party really using all the resources they can find in the core books? Probably not.
  • A wizard or cleric can wield a lot of power but if they don’t know the specs of their spells as the character is casting, the spell might fizzle. This encourages a fast-paced games and discourages the cleric from picking from a list of 300 spells.
  • I hate the fact that even-numbered attribute scores wield that extra +1 bonus. For example, a DEX score of 18 grants a +4 bonus and a DEX score of 19 grants a +4 bonus – the exact same. Give players with odd attribute score an extra +1 on appropriate rolls every now and then.
  • Give classic magic items. What’s wrong with a non-vorpal, non-keen, +2 longsword? Describe how awesome it looks and players will cherish a magic item.
  • Have the characters train during level-ups and keep the skills and feats they learn logical. I’m sure we’ve all done this to some extent already. I don’t want to keep characters from learning a new ability, but I might want to see them work for it.
  • Use your DM veto power. DMs don’t have to accept every single feat found in Tome of Magic Battle III.


Do you have anti-min-maxing rules?

Do you have great stories about flawed characters?

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14 Responses to “7 D&D anti-min-maxing rules”
  1. rekres says:

    What a stupid rant.

    1) Don’t roll your stats…. use the Point Buy system with only 25 pts.

    2) Meh. (nothing to do with min-maxers, who can still do that with just the PHB)

    3) What? So you’d reward the guy who memorized the spell list but can’t roleplay at all?!? (rewarding the min-maxer??)

    4) That suggestion is simply retarded. You screw up a nice simple progression just because you don’t understand it? (nothing to do with min-maxing!)

    5) So being happy with an inferior weapon means you aren’t min-maxing??? A +2 longsword is only 8,000GP. A keen vorpal +2 longsword is 128,000 GP. If I rolled on the random treasure and got a weapon worth 128,000 GP it better be more than just a +2 longsword….

    6) That’s not anti-min-maxer… that’s just sound DM judgement.

    7) True… but DM’s don’t have to accept every single feat in the PHB either!

  2. Fargalas says:

    Rekres: Calm down, man. You have some valid points, but nobody wants to talk to an intelligent man with no manners. If you must bash, rave, and rant, do it on your own blog. Otherwise, try to be more reasonable.

    As for the article: I do agree with the 25-point-buy system ruling, I think it works pretty well(and also saves me from dealing with players who roll 18, 17, 17, 16, 16, 15[yes, I’ve really had one roll like that]).

    I love the classic magical item note. Last I checked, Excalibur was not a keen vorpal blade, but a longsword. I try to keep magical effects interesting and weapons valuable to the player without having to resort to fancy weapon designs. Another idea that works for me(and many fantasy authors): Give the weapon a name. Excalibur, again, provides a good example. With a name, the player is more likely to associate with it personally. They care more for the weapons, that way.

  3. Dave T. Game says:

    My current group seems to be doing a self-imposed “only core” rule, even though everything is allowed. Most of them are new or “rusty” to D&D, which is probably why they’re more content to stay in the safe zone. I could never make them know the spell details, however… just too punishing to newbies.

    Good point about the +2 Longsword. What I’m going to start doing is not handing out random magic weapons (so that we end up with a +1 Throwing Kukri) but instead tailoring the weapon type to what the players want to use, to make it more desirable without making it over-powered.

  4. Yax says:

    Don’t worry about it. I stopped taking anyhting personally a long time ago. I like doing rants but they inevitably trigger harsh comments – especially if they’re not hilarious.

    But rants also trigger great discussions!

  5. TheMainEvent says:

    Three Core Rulebooks will certainly limit min-maxing! The more options a competent player has the more effective they can min-max as they take the cream of the crop in rules offered from each book. For instance, the Complete Book of Spells (or whatever its called) totally changes the paladin/ranger spells from mildly useful to devastating.

  6. rekres says:

    Uhm, if I was any more clam, I’d probably be asleep…. ;)

    Don’t mind me, I just don’t like rants. I thought I was being pretty reasonable, offering differing opinions on a item-by-item basis.

    Generally in any argument, I tend to avoid one extreme or the other, I prefer the middle ground. If you consider that unreasonable? okay… :D

  7. Yax says:

    Don’t worry about it. I like to think of this as a discussion, not an argument.

  8. njharman says:

    Nix magic item crafting rules except potions scrolls, make it so not every magic item under the sun is available at the corner magic shop.

    Having most magic come from you, te dm, gives you lots of control to limit min/max and to boost/reward players who don’t so they don’t fall behind power curve.

    min/max some npc’s/monster and really beat the crap out of them (do it fairly and honestly) and then explain how min/maxing is just an arms escalation that player won’t ever get an “advantage” they will just face more powerful challenges.

    Along with that encourage & show how the min/maxer can apply their problem solving calculating mind to in game situations/problems and not on their player sheet.

    But in the end if you can’t convert a chronic min/maxer and that isn’t your style it’s proly best to explain that ultimately they won’t have fun in your game and to find another. The alternative is to constantly battle with them making you, them, everyone have unfun.

  9. Yax says:

    @njharman said:
    encourage & show how the min/maxer can apply their problem solving calculating mind to in game situations/problems and not on their player sheet.

    I couldn’t have said it better.

  10. Yax says:

    Can this kind of harshness result in a better RPG experience?

    I guess that’s what matters in the end.

  11. Vaerdeger says:

    Why cut out such a big chunk of the game? Some players like acting and roleplaying so you make sure they can do it. Some players like combat so you make sure there is some combat every session. Some players like hunting down obscure feats and finding synergies so you let them.

  12. Yax says:

    They can hunt obscure feats all they want but I don’t have to let them use these obscure feats. I don’t think I’ve ever used my veto on new skills or prestige classes, but I’ve considered it many times.

  13. The_Gun_Nut says:

    When I run games, and I find someone specced for heavy hitting combat, I let them have their way every so often. I don’t run combat heavy by any stretch, but then I don’t run social RP games exclusively either. If every character has his niche, and the min/maxed PC (NOTE: not munchkin) has nothing to do, then why would he play? It’s like “ok, Boris, this is your specialty, how do we fight this monster?”

    But then, I tend to work with trumps more than overpowering style of play.

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