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"I have no clue. I don't think it would be much fun honestly. Pun-Pun was never created with the intention of being played, and any game that allows a Pun-Pun character will quickly degenerate from there."
Khan_the_Destroyer on the D&D
character he created
The advantage/power/feat/character option equivalent of One Stat to Rule Them All
May overlap with Game Breaker
, though the ability just might be a no-brainer to take or very good rather than broken.
Also, it may be a disadvantage whose point value far exceeds the inconvenience it causes, that is, the opposite of That One Disadvantage
As the trope name indicates, it is a godsend to players who enjoy Min-Maxing
These types of player abuses are most easily countered with Rule Zero
— the Game Master
is always right. Abuses can be completely averted with a simple "No" from the GM.
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4 X Games
- In Master of Orion 2: Battle at Antares you had the trait picks: creative (get every tech instead of pick one when you get new tech, this logarithmically makes you more powerful if you remember to stop improving planets and make ships at some point) as well the Klackons who have a flat 50% bonus to food and production because of their government. Klackons are balanced because they are UN-creative and get a random tech instead of choosing one... but then minmaxers use the create custom race feature and take both advantages for 15 points, leaving 'em 5 to get some more advantages. Theorically you could decide not to get max flaws instead, but since creative will let you fix most/all disadvantages in midgame at no extra cost you SHOULD get as many flaws as you can get for "free" advantages. And then the true minmaxer is not done yet, they need to pick the psilon's racial portrait to make sure they don't meet them ingame 'cause minmaxers don't like challenges... (this goes double if you get the mod where computer races get even more advantages and psilons are truly overkill)
- And let's not forget autolab. While not a "I win game over" tech by itself, it will bring you those at remarkable speed with remarkably low effort even for a tech-penalized race.
- The "Applied Research" Tech in Space Empires V. Research that makes all other research go faster? Yes please. Even more effective if acquired in the pre-game, as the player will start with the higher-level Research facilities on their homeworld(s), rather than having to rebuild them.
- In Star Ruler, empires can be given a number of traits which can give it powerful advantages or disadvantages. For example, the popular "Bustling Homeworld" gives you a fully developed homeworld (rather than only a partially developed one) at the cost of 3 points, whereas taking "Fledgling Empire" will only have one structure (your capital) on your homeworld, but it will give you 3 points to spend on minmaxing other traits. Game Mods like Galactic Armor expand the amount of traits, such as better focusing crystals for laser weapons, or weak warheads on missiles. Regardless of other traits, everyone takes the bonuses to Research, because you don't want to be left behind in the Lensman Arms Race.
- The Bottomless Appetite ability in Billy Vs SNAKEMAN, especially when combined with TACOS (ally) and TACOs (items).
- Stamina from the Fitness pool in City of Heroes gives a permanent boost to a character's Endurance recovery rate, with the only drawback being that you have to take two other powers in the Fitness pool to unlock it. As a pool power, it can be taken by characters of any archetype, and so it came to be viewed as being a mandatory choice for any character to be viable. With the Issue 19 update, the Fitness pool has become inherent, granted to all characters automatically and freeing up the power choices that would otherwise be filled by Stamina and its prerequisites.
- World of Warcraft
- The game has the Talent system, which is a variant of the Alternate Advancement system from Everquest. Some of the talents were so utterly ubiquitous that every specialisation branch of a class had its ultimate, mathematically proven to be the best, distribution and everybody was using it. Cataclysm redesigned the system for talent trees to still have a base skeleton of "must take" talents with everything else being useful in some cases, but optional and chosen on personal preferences.
- One example is playing a Priest. You have 3 specializations to choose from: Shadow (damage dealer, enemy debuffer), Holy (healer), and Discipline (a little of both, plus being a Barrier Warrior). Now, if you're going to be a Discipline Priest, it's almost guaranteed you'll take those talents that boost you "Power Word: Shield" (the "barrier" in the Discipline's Barrier Warrior). Also, if you want to do more than just cast shields on everybody, you might want to take those talents that buff the few offensive Holy spells you have. Unless your group is totally incompetent, you won't need to heal them all the time, right?
- The talent changes in Mists of Pandaria are trying to avert this. Talent selection is down to a simple choice of pick one of three talents every fifteen levels, and the talents are balanced and varied so that no one is obviously better than the others. It still doesn't stop people from searching for optimal strategies.
- In the early days of Asherons Call, the Item Magic skill quickly became almost mandatory to have in order to have a viable character in the game. Item Magic allows you to buff your items, debuff enemy items, makes locks easier to pick, makes it easier to identify the stats on items, and teleport to nearly any location in the game, provided there's a portal there and you've seen said portal (though you could only be bound to one portal at a time). The game world is approximately the size of Rhode Island and one easily accessible dungeon had portals to nearly every city. It didn't take long to reach a point where even an otherwise pure melee character would find it necessary to acquire Item Magic either from character creation or as soon as possible afterward, if only for the fast travel to that dungeon.
Role Playing Game
- The Gifted Trait in the first two games gave you one point towards each of your SPECIAL stats at a cost of some skill points per level. Not only does a 1 to each stat mitigate some of the skill point loss in and of itself (skill levels are based on stat levels initially, and higher IN gives you more skill points per level on its own), but there are far more skillbook powerups throughout the game than PIP-Boy stat powerups. The opposite Trait, Skilled, gives more skill points per level at a cost of reducing your Perk gain rate to 1 every 4 levels instead of every 3 levels... which is actually a ridiculously huge loss, since Perks provide unique bonuses like healing more HP with medical skills or vastly increasing the chance of getting a critical hit. Some perks gave free skill points, but the special effects were more powerful.
- Not to mention the Fast Shot and Small Frame Traits. Fast Shot makes all weapons (Fallout) or all ranged weapons (Fallout 2) fire faster at the expense of being unable to make called shots. Since burst-fire guns can't make called shots anyway, the drawback vanishes around the second town, and at high levels can be used with a few traits to dish out six critical hits each turn (which can very easily make for six kills each turn). Small Frame grants one stat point (which is keyed to Agility, but points can be manually redistributed anywhere) in exchange for reduced carrying capacity. Not so great in Fallout (followers aren't too bright and can't level up or equip better armour), but in Fallout 2 you can get an NPC/Permanent Companion/pack mule in the very first town you enter.
- In Fallout 3, if you have all the DLC, it is possible, although difficult initially, to use a character with 1 STR and END, meaning that the character has very little carrying weight and very little health. With this, you can 9 or 10 your agility and intelligence. This means you can obtain the maximum number of skill points per level, and have the maximum number of AP as well. If you can complete Operation Anchorage, you get the Chinese Stealth Suit, which goes invisible when crouched. All of this combined will create an invisible sniper which can wipe out multiple targets at once, and with a silenced weapon, can wipe out entire dungeons without anyone noticing.
- Skilled in New Vegas. Instead of reducing perk rate (very bad) as in the first two games, it reduces your XP gain, which doesn't matter in a game where you hit the level cap far before end-game. As there are far fewer ways to raise skill points than in 3, those extra skill points go a ways, especially if you didn't get any DLC to raise the level cap.
- Likewise, "Built to Destroy" gives you an increased chance to score critical hits (not many other ways to improve that stat) at the expense of your guns wearing out more rapidly. Mitigated easily if you use slow firing, high damage weapons like sniper rifles and get most of your kills in one or two shots, and you should be able to find plenty of spare weapons and repair kits to offset the damage to your own guns.
- The "Jury Rigging" perk allows you to repair just about any weapon or armor with another weapon or armor that's vaguely similar to it (rather than needing an exact copy of the item to take parts from). That means you can repair things like an incredibly powerful and expensive anti-tank sniper rifle with parts from a BB gun. It also means that if you have one or two very valuable guns in very poor condition, you can buy a couple of cheap garbage guns and repair your best guns to full condition and make their value go through the roof. Sell one and keep the other, and you'll be rolling in cash for the whole game. This is why Jury Rigging is probably the best perk in the game.
- Old World Blues introduced "Logan's Loophole", which lets you take chems with zero chance of addiction and doubled duration (very powerful if you can find a good supply), but fixes the level cap at 30 (as you'll likely have all the DLC if you have one of them, the limit will probably be 50 otherwise). The thing is, Old World Blues also added a one-time ability to change which trait you have, so you can just have Logan's Loophole until you reach level 30, then get rid of it.
- Good Natured in 1, 2, and New Vegas. In all three games it gives boosts to several non-combat skills while reducing all combat skill by the same amount or slightly less. The thing is, most players specialize in one type of weapons while each non-combat ability has a separate use, thus giving a significant net increase of the combined level of all the skills you actually use.
- Dungeons & Dragons (3.5 Edition):
- The Natural Spell feat allowed a druid to cast spells while in wild shape form, making it an easy pick.
- Likewise, anyone playing a Swordsage is going to pick up Adaptive Style at 1st level, as it lets you refresh (swap out) all of your maneuvers in the time it takes to recover one normally. The feat is considered good for most Martial Adepts, but key for Swordsage — and it's still not as powerful as other Adepts, to the point that this can be seen as fixing an inherent flaw in the class than an example of this trope.
- "Entangling Exhalation" is a must-have for any character with a Breath Weapon (particularly dragonfire adepts, who specialize in them), which lets them inflict a potent debuff in exchange for half damage.
- Divine Metamagic (Persistent Spell) allows already-frightening Cleric spells like, say, Divine Power to last the entire day, without so much as a spell level increase. Made even worse if the Cleric carries lots of Nightsticks, which give you even more turn attempts to burn...
- Being human falls under this in 3.5, as it grants a free feat (a rare ability normally only gained at level 1, 3, 6, etc., that has an insane number of options and can help qualify for many a Prestige Class) and extra skill points (not as useful, but very helpful for qualifying for stuff and good for classes with the class skill options to make use of it).
- Power Attack for melee characters. To wit, enemy HP scales quickly. Your damage output does not scale nearly so quickly. Power Attack, and the things that build off of it, end up being responsible for offsetting the bulk of this. Of course it's still a losing battle.
- Likewise, the ability to Pounce (or something mechanically similar) is almost mandatory for higher level melee characters. It gives the ability to make a full attack after charging, so it can mean the difference between spending your first turn getting off just one attack, or half a dozen.
- Tomb-Tainted Soul is the mandatory first-level feat for dread necromancers, because it means that their many negative-energy attacks can be used to infinitely heal themselves.
- Then there's the Embrace the Dark Chaos/Shun the Dark Chaos feat shuffle. To explain, Embrace the Dark Chaos replaces one of your feats with a vile feat, but forces you to be evil, damned when you die, and no-one like you (not to mention that vile feats generally suck). Shun the Dark Chaos means you can swap out that vile feat for a normal one. This allows one to replace all the sucky mandatory feats with any other feat. Where it really gets broken is that some races, like Elves, get weapon proficiency feats instead of just weapon proficiencies like everyone else that can then be shuffled away to get much better feats (in the case of Elves that's six extra feats).
- Leadership is such a obvious choice for any character with high Charisma, that many DMs ban it outright. You can get a cohort to loyally follow you, who will be two levels lower than your own character - but since Linear Warriors, Quadratic Wizards is in effect, your cohort could still easily be more powerful than other members of the party, or even more powerful than you.
- In the d20 Modern sourcebook Cyberscape (a sourcebook about cybernetic implants), you get that little gem: An implant called Nasal Filter. It does Exactly What It Says on the Tin, filtering any airborne harmful chemicals or bacterias, giving a +6 to Fortitude saves (i.e. good extra protection) against airborne poisons and disease (including tear gas). But Wait, There's More! It's purchase DC is a mere 18 (meaning it can be purchased by any level one character) and it doesn't counts against implant limits (in the standard cybernetics rules, you can only have a limited number of implants, depending on how much constitution you have (that is to say how physically healthy you are)). Far from a gamebreaker in a game where gas masks can be readily bought from the Internet, but still an implant you have no legitimate reason not to take, just in case.
- In the d20 Modern sourcebook D20 Future, there are mutations. Mutations are point based, you gain points by choosing harmful mutations, and spend them in advantageous mutations. One advantageous mutation, fang, gives you a bite attack. The cost for this mutation is equal to the bonus points you gain blood hunger mutation (which requires you to have a bite attack), that forces you to drink blood once a day from a living creature. All you need is a person willing to give you blood, and you get a close combat weapon no one can take away from you, at no cost.
- Similarly, though far more dramatically so, medichines in Eclipse Phase. They are cheap, they have no downsides, they give powerful and extremely important bonuses and all too often they literally mean the difference between life and death (many dangers you can't even try to save against if you don't have medichines). The only reason not to buy them is if your character has some kind of ideological thing going on against nanotech, and even then...
- Combat Reflexes: A poster on RPG.net claimed every player in his group took it and renamed it "Don't Suck". It costs 15 to give +1 to dodge, parry, and block, then a pile of minor effects. Enhanced Dodge alone (+1 to dodge) costs 15 points as well. Puzzle that out. By Word of Kromm, it is intentionally under-priced to help lower-point characters "not die all the time."
- Incidentally, one of those "minor effects"? Is effective immunity to being simply gunned down by surprise while the character is still standing there uncomprehendingly — Combat Reflexes renders the character immune to "total surprise" (freezing up for 1-6 precious seconds in a game where combat time is tracked in one-second turns — and can happen to most anyone who doesn't take the advantage and gets caught by surprise badly enough) and gives a sizable bonus to rolls to quickly shake off what's left.
- Ambidexterity: You can spend 5 points to learn Off-Hand Weapon Training for one specific weapon... or you can spend 5 points for Ambidexterity and do everything equally well with both hands.
- The ability to assemble advantages by modifying pre-existing ones makes inventing these an amusement for some. M.U.N.C.H.K.I.N. is one classic (though not actually legal) example. Game Masters are expected to regulate player-designed advantages.
- Big Eyes, Small Mouth has the same thing with Extra Actions. A single extra action essentially doubles your combat prowess (making two attacks instead of one), a second is tripling your ability, etc. Most GMs either ban the ability completely or limit it to speedster-type characters.
- Earlier versions of the merit Silver Resistance in Werewolf: The Apocalypse. The original version completely negated the Kryptonite Factor for werewolves, including the minor side penalties for carrying any silver around. It was pretty much carte blanche to create an anti-Black Spiral machine. The ability was eventually nerfed so that it only allowed the character to have a chance to soak silver damage (but any damage that got through would be just as crippling as it would be on any other werewolf).
- Similarly, Fair Glabro. Glabro Form is one of the five werewolf shapes, and while it typically boosts your Strength and Stamina, it leaves you looking like Lawrence Talbot under the full moon. That is, unless you take this two-point Merit that merely leaves you looking like a very hirsute bodybuilder.
- The starting stats for Rage (which could be spent for extra actions), Gnosis (to fuel spiritual powers), and Willpower (all-around useful for powering a variety of effects) were based off of choice of tribe, auspice (class), and ancestry (human, wolf or werewolf-inbreeding), with some options just giving flat-out more points than any other without a direct compensation elsewhere. Tribe and auspice can't be chosen for maximum points guilt-free, because while an Ahroun (warrior werewolf) gets 5 points of Rage, this doesn't help you at all if you'd like to play a stealthy character and now can't take any supernatural powers related to that because all of those are tied to the Ragabash (trickster) auspice that receives only 1 point of Rage. However, the choice of your breed has a lesser effect: a wolf-born character can't take some human skills at character creation and has access to a different list of gifts than a human one, which isn't any worse. However, the wolfborn does get 5 points of starting gnosis rather than 1 and can always be played as a "fast learner" when it comes to human culture...
- Then there's the most infamous build: Lupus Stargazer Ahroun. Lupus, as wolf-born werewolves close to nature, start with 5 Gnosis. Stargazers, an Eastern tribe focused on internal balance, start with 5 Willpower. Ahroun, as the righteous warriors of Gaia, start with 5 Rage. Of course, this locks the character into a very specific concept (wild-touched Zen master rage monster). More recent editions have toned it down by giving Stargazers 4 Willpower to start, taking them away from superhuman and more towards the real of other pacifistic tribes such as the Children of Gaia.
- In 4th edition Dungeons & Dragons, the release of the Weapon Expertise and Implement feats was heralded by many screams and gnashing of teeth. Being a re-institution of the forbidden Unnamed Bonus (now a feat bonus under official errata) that, for just a Heroic feat, still scales into Paragon and Epic tiers. Widely remarked by CharOp superstars as making every class "have one less feat" for any character that does any attacking. What's even worse is that when you break the system in half and look at the gooey math, you can see that the +1 bonus at around the half-way point at all tiers is pretty much expected — so in some ways, this is a Game Breaker that is pre-broken to be necessary (if one considers a 5% shift in accuracy to be necessary)! Some suspect that this was pretty much a patch to the game system, albeit one accomplished through a feat rather than through more permanent adjustments.
- To clarify for those who haven't played it, player modifiers only automatically scale at +1 every two levels while monster modifiers scale at +1 per level meaning that you needed to come up with +15 in modifiers over 30 levels through feats, magic items, ability score increases, and tactics just to keep up. The game comes prebuilt to require this minmaxing and tells you the basics of how to do it.
- The Essentials supplement line added variant versions that also give specific secondary benefits based on the type of weapon (or magical implement) they're taken for, in order to add a little more consequence to weapon type as well as make the feat do more than just dully ratchet up your attack roll bonus.
- Though the specific rule has since been removed, the original Zelda d20 rules included the feat "Attunement", which bonded the character with any creature with intelligence of at least 3, and provided bonuses that varied based on what creature it was. Attuning a character with a fairy provided a +1 bonus to all attack rolls (which beats out weapon focus, since the latter only applies to one kind of weapon) and a +2 bonus to Reflex saves (identical to the bonus given by the feat "Lightning Reflexes"), essentially giving the character two feats for the price of one. In addition, faeries had the ability to cast Cure serious wounds once per day as a 5th level caster. There was, however, the disadvantage that the player had to be within 50ft of the attuned creature, and could thus be separated from it (or the creature could presumably be targeted and killed).
- Not to mention the fact that Fairies are known to never shut up. "Hey, Listen!".
- In Legend of the Five Rings, there's Elemental Blessing and Enlightenment, both of which reduce the cost of increasing your traits, making them more than pay for themselves in the long run. It's not even that long of a wait if you spend your points right.
- Friend of the Elements is also very good because it gives you a free Raise on all rolls involving a Ring of your choice for only a few points. For those keeping track, this means that you get roughly the equivalent of a +1 to two traits for a fraction of the cost of improving one.
- In Los Angeles 2035, two levels of Aikido are almost mandatory for every character. With those two levels, you have enough to buy the Reaction technique, giving you one free defensive action per turn. In a game here you gain actions as a result of your initiative roll, which is remade every turn, and need to spend one of your action to dodge or parry once, one extra defense each turn is a really good ability.
- One Exalted merit, with a name like Brutal Attack, allowed you to use Strength instead of Dexterity for attack rolls. This was a must-have for anyone who intended to engage the enemy in close combat, for a simple reason. Until the sourcebook containing merits and flaws came along, Dexterity was One Stat to Rule Them All and Strength was meh. As a result, there were a lot of cheap ways to increase your Strength, not so many for Dexterity. Especially absurd for Lunars, who could just take a tyrant lizard spirit shape and access, from character creation, Strength 14 in a system where 5 is defined as "peak human" strength.
Turn Based Strategy
- In Final Fantasy Tactics, there's the Archer class's Support Ability, Concentration, with which you never miss in physical and some magical attacks. Then there's the Samurai class's Blade Grasp Reaction Ability, which ensures that your units will rarely get physically hit ever again.
- And then there's the Calculator skillset, which lets you cast nearly any spell instantly, at infinite range, at 0 MP cost, essentially turning the character you give it to a Person of Mass Destruction. The Calculator has the shortcoming of its spell targeting being very different from any other class, with the result that the only way to hit the intended target(s) might also put some (or in extreme cases, all) of your own party members in the line of fire. Fortunately, that flaw can very easily be turned in an asset by spamming Holy (a strong spell that no enemy is immune to) and equipping your party members with items that absorb Holy. Once that's done, it's a good thing if your Calculator hits himself and/or an ally with his spell, because they'll be healed by it.
- There is also the Samurai's Draw Out skill. It is a varied and powerfull skill that has healing, buffing, and large area magic damage spells that are all instant casting and zero MP cost. It is balanced out by the Samurai's low magic skill and it being far down the fighting job class tree. Give this skill to a high level black mage and it becomes ridiculously good, especially since the attack spells become one hit kills due to the damage formula's being optimized for the Samurai.
- And, of course, the hugely powerful Monk + Double-Strike combo. At level 50 or so, these tend to deal ~200 damage per hit - a feat only matched by Cid.
- Final Fantasy Tactics Advance also has Concentrate, here increasing the accuracy of physical attacks by a flat 50% and status effects by 20% (20 and 50 of 100, not of base accuracy). This includes One-Hit Kill moves whose only weakness was a low natural accuracy.
- A2 nerfed Concentration to a flat 5% accuracy bonus (as in 5% of 100%, not 5% of the current accuracy) and also made base accuracy for most physical attack 99% instead of tremendously varying by class. Though it has its own in Halve MP (because MP starts at 0 and grows each turn) or Blood Price for any Magick-user.
Concerning clan abilities, AP Up can easily be this because only a few of the other in-battle abilities make much of a difference, you'll want more Ability Points to get new abilities (and thus jobs) until you've nearly got 100% Completion, the amount of AP non-story missions give without it is rather pathetic in comparison (AP Up 3 gives triple the base amount), and the other reward-increasing abilities (for Gil and Clan Point) fall firmly into Money for Nothing, .
- SP Regen in Super Robot Wars Original Generation. SP, the SRW series equivalent of Mana, is the most limited resource in the games and the hardest to replenish. In most games, you must equip a consumable item at the expense of mech parts or use very expensive support spells. SP Regen gives 10 SP per turn and many characters get very useful spells that only cost 10-15 SP.
- Ditto Attacker. Giving a 1.2x multiplier to damage dealt when above a certain morale threshold makes it mandatory for any boss-slayer and arguably just any unit in general. Attacker is meant to make up for the lack among the Original Generation cast of abilities like Mazin Power which do the same thing, but it just translates into everyone getting the skill instead of it being someone's signature trait.
- SRW Alpha 3 and Z took the less minmax-friendly route of making SP Regen an inherent skill available only to a select few pilots such as Loran Cehack and Lacus Clyne. These pilots are usually top-tier just for having SP Regen alone. SP Regen can also be given temporarily to other pilots using an extremely rare part, but only two-three of these are typically made available.
- 2nd Original Generation followed suit, making SP Regen and Attacker unpurchaseable skills found on only a few characters, who are borderline game Breakers.
- Disgaea games outright encourage this with the Big Bang skill. It's a fist move that covers a 3x3 area. And rest assured, there will be a map late in the game that features powerful enemies arranged in just such a manner that a single Big Bang clears the map. Combining this with Stronger Enemies bills is the secret to having your characters reach the Absurdly High Level Cap of 9999. So no matter what your party's makeup is, and what weapons they favor, you will teach all the humanoid members Big Bang at some point.
- Age of Wonders features an option for building a custom leader at the start with access to abilities that you can't buy later. Meanwhile you can free up extra points by selling the abilities you start with that are useless or can be bought later on level up. The most notable start-only abilities are First Strike, Cold Strike, and Lightning Strike, because First Strike means that whenever someone attacks you in melee, you get a free attack at them first, while Cold and Lightning strike give you a chance of freezing or stunning them respectively, thus completely negating the attack they were about to make. At high levels you only need First Strike since you'll be doing enough damage to just kill nearly everything outright on the first attack. This combo is so overpowered that the modding community banned First Strike in competitions.
Role Playing Game
- High elves in Daggerfall are immune to paralysis. The player can make a custom class with a critical weakness to paralysis, which allows the selection of more advantageous options, and will never trigger because the immunity takes priority over the critical weakness.
- Worse than that. Your custom class can have crippling weaknesses to virtually everything, and then just ignore them by buying immunity to all magic.
- Flaws in Dungeons & Dragons (3.5). For the low, low price of making you worse at something you're probably never going to do (for instance, taking the "Shaky" flaw for a pure melee character that doesn't plan on ever making a ranged attack), you get bonus feats, which are very, very, very precious. In extreme cases, your new feat can make you completely immune to something the flaw gave you a weakness to.
- This applies to flaws in pretty much any system where they raise their ugly head. In oWoD games and GURPS you can almost always pick a bunch of minor disadvantages that will never ever hinder you in actual play. In worse cases, these disadvantages actually give you justifications for being an asshole.
- GURPS does price its advantages higher than the point value of the opposite-number disadvantage, though, in an attempt to mitigate this (ie. to pile up on points from disadvantages you generally have to take severe ones.)
- The New World of Darkness games have a flaw system that averts this; you get no extra points at character creation for taking the flaw, the only way your flaw gives you EXP is if it actually affects you in a completely negative way in play.
- Deadlands did the same thing: Hindrances, as they were called, must come up in play to give you an advantage, though some of them were hysterically fun (like the one where your character knows he's in a pen-and-paper RPG and is paranoid about his "character sheet" burning up in a fire.)
- Dragon Magazine had some of the best 3.5 flaws for this trope. One of them was called "No Familiar," for Sorcerers and Wizards, which was the same as a free feat with no drawbacks, since nobody ever used the familiar anyway (a weak creature that caused you to lose XP if it was killed.) If you actually did want your familiar for some reason, there was a feat that granted you a one with abilities based on your caster level instead of your class level, so if you were going into a Prestige class (and thanks to Empty Levels, everyone went for prestige classes), this flaw-feat combo amounted to a free net advantage.
- In the d20 Modern sourcebook D20 Future, there are mutations. Mutations are point based, you gain points by choosing harmful mutations, and spend them in advantageous mutations. One advantageous mutation, fang, gives you a bite attack. The cost for this mutation is equal to the bonus points you gain blood hunger mutation (which requires a bite attack to be taken), that forces you to drink blood once a day from a living creature. All you need is a person willing to give you blood, and you get a close combat weapon no one can take away from you, at no cost. In the same vein, Festering Sores is a mutation that covers your character's skin with festering sores. The effect is more aggravating than harmful, but it reduces an armor's max Dexterity bons by 2 and increases armor penalties by 2. A fast hero with maxed out dexterity gains no benefits from armors anyway, so he/she might as well take this mutation.
- Traits an flaws from Unearthed Arcana make a comeback in d20 Modern. So for a character whom isn't a tech guy/gal, technophobe is a real bargain. By taking penalties to technical skills, most of those cannot be used untrained, you gain a free feat.
- For a low strength character, Skinny and Slippery are good traits. By taking penalties to strength check to avoid being bull rushed and maintaining a grapple, respectively (both areas in which you were already doomed), you gain bonuses to escape artist checks, though the latter trait only apply to escaping a grapple.
- Abstinent (Tobacco) in Aces And Eights: Shattered Frontier. Free points, plus some money saved on top of it.
- Depending on the game, a min-maxer in some Old World of Darkness games could get points for some truly pathetic flaws. Do you wear glasses and have a mild caffeine addiction? That could be leveraged into two points in a game where new characters have only 15 discretionary ones to spend. A real munchkin could go so far as to buy shatter-resistant lenses, carry a back-up pair, and then have a small supply of caffeine pills on hand just in case the Story Teller ever tried to put the character at a disadvantage. Such lame flaws tended to get rejected by the GM, of course, but they were there in the rules as written.
- Despite the game's nature of having deadly, deadly disadvantages, Legend of the Five Rings is unique in that many of the disadvantages can simply never come up. A Caster can take Elemental Imbalance at maximum ranks for up to 8 free points, and all they have to do is simply never cast from that element which would otherwise be available to them. A Fire Shugenja giving up the ability to cast Earth spells doesn't lose much. Doubt gives several points, at the expense of being slightly worse at a skill you never use. Ascetic is similarly a good choice for characters who don't rely on equipment.
- Touch of the Void has a chance to daze you when you use Void Points, but improves their benefit. Once you have a high enough Willpower trait to resist being dazed, it becomes purely beneficial. What's more, the penalty from daze doesn't last as long as the bonus from using a Void Point for tasks that take multiple rounds to complete.
- There is a Bad Fortune disadvantage that states an NPC wants to wreck your love life to have you for his/herself. These NP Cs tend to be personally or politically powerful, otherwise they would not have the means to actually affect you given the average PC is a samurai. Some players consider this free points with the guarantee a useful NPC that is interested in them will show up eventually or simply have no love life for this person to ruin by playing a ascetic monk.
- In most tabletop RPG that have it, the compulsive gambler disadvantage is basically free points for cool stuff. You don't have big problems with it because: 1) Having to win or lose 200 gold pieces a day or suffer stat reduction is no big deal when you earn mountains of gold in one adventure. 2) Gambling is usually legal, unlike drugs, and even if it's not, it's hard to enforce. 3) Aside from possible money loss, you don't suffer ill effects from gambling. 4) Thanks to the way disadvantages are defined, you could play a rogue addicted to games requiring high dexterity, basically ensuring you have a positive expected value with these games (ie: on the long run, you win more than you lose).
- Some systems give "minor" advantages packaged in a flaw (for example, a phobia to insects would cripple you in a fight against them but maybe give you a minor dodge bonus to them). More often than not these either outweigh the flaw completely, turning it into an advantage that also buys you other advantages, or sinergizes with the flaw in a manner that effectively neuters it, giving free points. In the gambling example above, some systems would give bonus training on the Gambling skill if it exists, further increasing the expected value.
- GURPS has several "disadvantages" that compel you to kill things and take their stuff.
- On the flip side, for anyone playing on the complete other end of the heroic scale, you have disadvantages that compel you to act heroic or tell the truth (though for the latter one, there's also the possibility that you're just very blatant when you lie).
- The Weirdness Magnet "disadvantage." Attract all the weirdest possible events in the world? Some people call that condition "being player characters in an RPG." Handily it gives exactly the number of points needed for the Unflappability talent, which keeps you from panicking when Weirdness Magnet comes up.
- There is nothing technically illegal about taking the "emergencies only" modifier for a discount on advantages like Hard to Kill, which are by definition emergency powers anyway. In many cases it may be a good idea for combat powers in general, assuming that combat in your setting is, in general, life threatening. A case can also be made for taking a temporary bloodlust disadvantage for emergency combat powers that will only come up in lethal-force situations anyway.
- The bog-standard set of disadvantages for a typical 3rd edtion GURPS character is Bad Temper, Impulsive, Overconfidence, a 5-point Code of Honor (compeling you strictly to behave nicely to your allies, essentially), and a 5-point Sense of Duty (making you want to behave nicely to your allies). All of those basically make you act like a PC in an RPG, and rare indeed is the PC without at least one of those.
- Averted for plot-related disadvantages in Mutants & Masterminds, called "Complications". They only yield their benefit (free Hero Points) when and if they disadvantage your character in some way.
- There are, however, mechanical Flaws and Drawbacks in the second edition that offer point discounts and refunds. Some particularly effective ones include the combination of Non-Lethal and Full Power on an attack 1 , or the Check Required flaw 2 . The most broken Drawback is Holding Back, mean to represent potential Super-Powered Evil Side. It refunds you several points, and in exchange you can occasionally exceed the power level of the campaign. Most GMs wisely ban it, or remove control from the player while it is in effect.
- "SINner" in the new version of Shadowrun. You have a SIN, an ID number (basically an American Social Security number) that allows the government to track everything you do with it. The catch? There is nothing preventing you from purchasing and using fake SIN cards (and indeed, one of the sample characters has this combo!) Five free points and legitimacy as a citizen — not a bad catch.
- A good GM, however, will make sure that the character ultimately ends up paying for it. If the character has relatives, they'll be threatened. If the character is solitary, they'll find that all of their resources (home, weapons, fake SINs, etc.) are burned when their real SIN is discovered. In addition, a character with a SIN is — according to the game system — not at all trusted by the people running in the shadows. In other words, it's up to the GM to make the player pay for the disadvantage.
- In general, any system with "front-loaded" disadvantages that one takes in exchange for more resources right at character creation is prone to having some of these (usually as well as examples of That One Disadvantage). It's just a general problem: no matter how fairly priced the disadvantage may seem at game design and/or purchase time, how often it ultimately ends up coming up and proving to be an actual hindrance in play is highly individual campaign-dependent.
...I said a tip, top,
The tippy, the tippy
To the tip-tip top, your stats pop
You're gonna rock a
Bang bang to CHA
So up jumps your STA
So every monster you can beat!