Minmaxer's Delight

Durkon: I'll wear 'im down. I can still cast all me healin' spells, but he cannae heal 'imself while he's in the shape o' tha dire bear. Well, unless he took the Natural Spell feat.
Julia: Wait, I'm confused— There are druids who DON'T take the Natural Spell feat??

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.

Advantage Examples:

    open/close all folders 

     4 X Games 
  • In Master of Orion 2: Battle at Antares you had the trait picks: creative (get every tech at each tech level instead of only picking one, this logarithmically makes you more powerful if you remember to stop improving planets and make ships at some point) as well as the Unification government that grants a flat 50% bonus to food and production. Klackons (who naturally have Unification) are balanced because they are uncreative and get a random tech instead of choosing one, a custom race can take both advantages for 15 points, leaving 'em 5 to get some more advantages. Theortically 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 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.
    • Telepathy can make a lot of disadvantages more or less irrelevant, particularly if you play aggressively in a crowded universe. It allows you to instantly integrate an enemy planet into society as soon as you have defeated planetary defenses if you have a sufficiently large ship in the conquering fleet. You do not need to invade or bombard so there is no damage to the planet. If you know a bit about min-maxing you will immediately see how this can be exploited; you can take unification (essentially a hive-mind: great bonuses to production but it is very hard to integrate other species) as your government since integration is instant anyway. You can choose a race that sucks at ground combat since when you are invading, there is no ground combat and you can rely on other things than ground combat when you are defending. As a matter of fact, you can choose a *race* that sucks at everything: ground combat, farming, working, researching and reproduction. You are going to conquer a more useful race anyway the first thing you do so these disadvantages will not slow you down much anyway. Just choose things that make your *society* very powerful (such as: creativity, telepathy and unification government).
  • 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 Armory 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.
    • Star Ruler 2 introduces different flavors of Faster-Than-Light Travel with unique mechanics and benefits. You can pick one to use, and only one; Hyperdrive, Slipstream, gates, and Fling. The fifth option is for no FTL travel, period, for a massive +3 points to spend on other traits. Depending on the size of the galaxy(s), no FTL can be either a death sentence or an acceptable loss.

  • 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 Asheron's 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.

  • FTL: Faster Than Light:
    • Capturing a ship (by killing its crew) is far more lucrative than destroying it outright, so buying a Teleporter early is crucial.
    • The Scrap Recovery Arm always pays for itself, so there is never any reason not to get it.
    • If you find the Burst Laser Mark II in a store somewhere, you get it. It's probably the most energy-efficient weapon in the game (three shots for two energy).

    Role Playing Game 
  • Fallout
    • 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 armor), but in Fallout 2 you can get an NPC/Permanent Companion/pack mule in the very first town you enter.
    • Fallout: New Vegas:
      • Skilled. 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.
      • 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 introduces "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 adds 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 weapon 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.
    • Fallout 4:
      • The Idiot Savant perk randomly gives a massive EXP boost that becomes more likely the lower your Intelligence is. If you do the math, the gain from the perk is enormous with even a moderate Intelligence and always bigger than what you'd get by increasing Intelligence (which is the game's "normal" Experience Booster). And, because of the way EXP costs increase each level, even a max Int character will eventually recoup their losses from spending a level on the perk.
      • Ballistic Weave is an armor modification that gives a ballistic and energy defense boost, with higher levels available the higher your Armorer perk is. The majority of light clothing and a small handful of hats in the game can be modded with Ballistic Weave, gifting massive defenses to any build with 3 STR for the Armorer perk. All you need to do to unlock it is a few early quests with the Railroad long before being locked into their questline.
  • Dark Souls I:
    • Havel's Ring increases equipment load by 50%, which is equivalent to at least 20 levels of Endurance (more if your Endurance is high, which it usually will be) in a game where each level gives one stat point and most people get to the endgame at level 80. This is tremendously useful, because it lets you get better protection from armor in terms of damage and hitstun resistance without losing mobility or vice-versa. Most of the other rings not affecting magic have effects that are much more situational (like increasing a single defense by an amount heavier armor would almost cover for all types) or have significant drawbacks (like the Ring of Favor and protection, which boosts several stats but is lost forever if you take it off). Because of this and its early availability, the majority of players not focused entirely on magic have Havel's Ring on for most of their playthrough. Future installments in the series nerfed the amount increased to 10-20% (though partially because both allow four rings instead of two), on top of making armor itself less powerful.
    • The spell Power Within gives 100 seconds of significantly boosted damage and stamina regeneration, which essentially every character build benefits from, at the cost of draining a full health bar over the duration, which is pretty manageable because you can have as many as twenty Estus. It can be used by anyone for little to no cost, as its only stat requirement is taking up one Attunement slot (something every starting class either has to begin with or needs 1-2 levels to reach). After being entirely absent in the second game, it returned in the third significantly Nerfed (half the damage boost, no stamina regeneration boost, twice the rate of health drain).
  • In Fable, the game's Mana Shield spell also prevents hits from resetting your Combat Multiplier, which increases experience. The spell is thus so useful for absolutely any character build that it qualifies as a Self-Imposed Challenge not to use it.
  • In The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim, completing the Temple of Mara quest line confers the Agent of Mara blessing, a permanent, passive, always-on magic resistance. Magic resistance is useful for any character build and relatively hard to come by, generally requiring high levels of Enchanting skill or using the Lord Stone, which requires forgoing any of several other useful Standing Stone abilities. The quest line is very easy and can be undertaken as soon as the Dragonborn reaches Riften, which can be done by cart almost immediately after starting the game, so there's never any real reason not to do it as soon as possible.
    • Chaos is, bar none, the best weapon enchantment in the game due to the way it scales cumulatively from every perk and item that increases elemental damage. This includes all three Augmented Element perks, all three Elemental Enchanter perks, wearing any of the Solstheim Dragon Priest masks, and being placed on a Stalhrim weapon (bonus effect for Frost enchantments). An optimized enchanter will typically deal hundreds, if not over a thousand points of elemental damage with every hit. And if that wasn't enough, if you have the Dual Enchanter perk, if Chaos is the first enchantment you put on a weapon, it also makes the second enchantment much stronger!

    Sports Games 
  • Arc Style: Baseball!! 3D:
    • Pitching is all about using Tall characters. They have the second fastest delivery speed and the most useful pitches by far in the game: slider, two-seam and forkball. Also, since a whole lot of batters in the game are left-handed, you might as well make your pitcher a lefty too, so you can exploit the slider on them.
    • The "Max power" option is the most useful in batting, and it's only available to Macho characters. Have some of them on your team, and you'll get lots of runs. Granted, they're really slow, but you can compensate that with tons of hits to the gap or over the fence.

    Tabletop Games 
  • Dungeons & Dragons (3.5 Edition):
    • Mostly a theoretical exercise was Pun-Pun, a being that started as a lowly Kobold and ends as... well, the most powerful being in the multiverse. Its exploits are based upon the ability "Manipulate Form" that is exclusively posessed by a certain NPC species, which allows them to grant any ability to one of their servant races ("scaled ones" like Kobolds). With feats from some other books, Pun-Pun can assume the form of this species and gain their ability, which he then uses to give his familiar an ability called... Manipulate Form, which the familiar uses to give it back to Pun-Pun after the latter has returned to his original form. From that point, the game becomes a slog through any and all splat books, searching for ever more powerful abilities that can be bestowed. As Pun-Pun's creator mentioned in the page quote, Pun-Pun is a purely theoretical construct, akin to a chess problem ("White to play and achieve omnipotence in five moves") and very much not meant to be played.
    • 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). These tend to be far more useful than the racial abilities of other species, which are usually nothing special.
    • 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.
    • While we're on melee combat, let's talk about the two most favored weapons of Minmaxers and melee. First, we have the Greatsword. Rolls 2d6 for damage, is two-handed so it gets a Strength Bonus buff and Power Attack does more damage, has an increased Critical Threat range like all swords, is a martial weapon, and pairs well with a lot of melee builds. It's Boring, but Practical. The other is the Spiked Chain. Normally, exotic weapons are the bane of minmaxers, as very few give any worthwhile bonus in exchange for a precious Feat slot. A Spiked chain, however, is a two-handed weapon, getting the same buffs as mentioned above for Greatswords, has reach so the user can strike farther than normal, and, unlike most reach weapons, can be used against adjacent opponents. It is also a weapon granting bonuses to attempts to trip or disarm opponents, making it very well-liked for technical melee builds that focus on abusing Attack of Opportunity, and limiting the mobility and options of foes.
    • 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 likes 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 you 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.
    • Just about any guide to the Factotum class will recommend that you take the "Font of Inspiration" feat as many times as possible, since it increases the pool of inspiration points which fuel your abilities. Likewise, since factotums have access to every skill in the game, the Iaijutsu Focus skill from Oriental Adventures is oddly popular as a source of reliable bonus damage.
    • The best weapon for the Iaijutsu Focus skill itself is not the katana, but the gnome quickrazor: an odd folding weapon which can be drawn or sheathed instantly, allowing the wielder to perform iaijutsu strikes more often.
  • 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! Its 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.
  • 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...
  • Dungeons & Dragons (Other editions):
    • The original Unearthed Arcana sourcebook as published for the Advanced Dungeons & Dragons system had a number of these:
      • Weapon Specialization allowed fighters to specialize in a melee weapon to get a +1 bonus to hit and +2 damage on the weapon in exchange for giving up one of their initial four weapon proficiency slots and gave an extra attack every other round. Single handed weapons could be double specialized in for a +3/+3 bonus to hit and damage. Combine that with a decent strength score (it was usually possible to get an 18/xx exceptional strength score giving a minimum of +1/+3 to hit/damage) and every successful hit would be at least seven points of damage, enough to kill any standard one hit dice enemy 99% of the timenote  and this option could (as written) be taken at first level - combining the increased damage with the better attack rate meant first level fighters could mow through enemies much faster than "vanilla" fighters. Bows were no better - at point blank range they got an extra +2 to hit and multiplied the arrow damage plus the specialization bonus by two - a sheaf arrow doing one to eight hit points of damage from a normal hit would do six to twenty damage at that range - enough to drop most one hit dice enemies and on a lucky roll all two, most three and some weaker four hit dice enemies with a single hit - and you got two shots every combat round. A first level character with decent dexterity and strength scores and a strength adjusted bow (that allows you to add your strength bonuses to hit and damage as well as your dexterity bonus to hit) could be absurdly overpowered as long as they weren't forced into melee combat with a theoretical maximum damage output of over 50hp/combat round, enough to drop any creature of six hit dice or below regardless of hit points and enough to take out an average eleven hit dice creature such as a fire giant in a single round. Sensible GMs would bar first level fighters from taking specialization at all, only allowing its use when they gained new proficiency slots at fourth level (and seventh level for double specialization) making it still useful but less immediately overpowered.
      • Cavaliers and their subclass paladins had the unfair mechanic of being allowed to increase their ability scores through training - cavaliers could increase their strength, dexterity and constitution and paladins could increase charisma also. This meant that high level cavaliers and paladins were very likely to have all exceptional scores in those abilities. A complete case of Fridge Logic as there is no justifiable reason to allow this particular class to increase abilities as they leveled up while barring other classes from doing so.
  • GURPS.
    • 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.Answer  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.
      • Patched later with a perk version of Off-Hand Weapon Training, letting you pick it up for one point.
    • 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.
    • Essentials also added a Rogue variant called a Thief, and its at-will powers Tactical Trick and Ambush Trick. To be effective in combat, thieves require combat advantage to activate their Sneak Attack power. Normally, this requires a drawn out process involving using the Stealth skill, attacking, and using Stealth again. But they also can start with up to two of a pool of Tricks, including Tactical Trick and Ambush Trick. Both are move powers, which let you move as normal, but let you gain combat advantage when attacking an enemy adjacent to another ally (for Tactical Trick), or not adjacent to anyone (for Ambush Trick). This basically means that any Thief attacking a melee-based enemy, engages in combat with a melee ally, or staying away from everything else, is an instant death dealer.
  • 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.
  • Black Crusade allows players to choose (or roll) a "Motivation" from a table that affects their stats. The "Perfection" Motivation could technically be misconstrued as a disadvantage in that it lowers your stat total by 1, but its specificities (+5 to one stat, -3 to two, all chosen by the player) just amplify minmaxing because it's very easy to choose two Dump Stats.
  • The 5th edition of Dungeons & Dragons saw a big boost to a class no one was expecting: the bard. They're now full casters, can pick and choose unique spells from other classes' lists to cherry pick the best ones, and are still incredibly versatile as ever, with great skill boosts and, if the player desires, competent hand-to-hand combatants.

    Turn Based Strategy 
  • In most Fire Emblem games, a mounted or flying traits is this, since being mounted translates into extra mobility, the ability to re-move after certain actions, and perform rescue dropping actions effectively. Flying combines them with the ability to ignore terrains. Combined with several other factors, and lack of balancing factor between mounted and infantry units, the tier lists for practically every Fire Emblem games are dominated by Mounted and Flying units, with some utility and exceptional combat units appearing here and there.
    • The Jugdral games have it worst. Genealogy have a massive maps, which resulted in mounted unit having complete dominance over the cast. Thracia is filled with obscenely broken staffs on both side to the point that at late game, there are only 2 kind of units, one with staff and high magic and one that don't.
    • Skill example: Galeforce from Fire Emblem Awakening. It allows the user a full extra action after killing an enemy, which includes attacking again. This skill greatly increases both a unit's offensive power and mobility, and a full army of Galeforce users can wipe out entire maps in a single turn. It being exclusive to females (being a Pegasus Knight skill) is a big reason behind Awakening's Game Favoured Gender, but male children can inherit it from their mothers. Getting Galeforce on as many characters as possible is the biggest concern for Minmaxers when making pairings. Galeforce was such a Game Breaker that Fire Emblem Fates not only nerfed it, they also made the class that gives it DLC-only.
  • 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.
    • 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, it being far down the fighting job class tree and the fact that every time it's used, there's a chance that it might break the katana used in the skill, and the stronger the skill, the harder the said katana is to aquire, with some of them being normally one-of-a-kind items. 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 the risk of katanas breaking can be mitigated by either duplicating them or catching thrown copies of them from high level ninjas.
    • 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.
    • Later SRW titles, including Alpha 3, Z, and 2nd Original Generation took the less minmax-friendly route of making SP Regen (and Attacker in 2nd OG) 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.
    • The SRW Z2 games have Continuous Action, which allows a character with 120 Morale to take an Extra Turn after defeating an enemy, with the Morale check made after gaining 5 points for making the kill. It only activates once per turn (changing forms/pilots on Transforming Mecha with multiple pilots doesn't reset this), but it breaks the game wide open.
  • 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.

Disadvantage Examples:

    Fighting Game 
  • Some of the equipment you can find in Super Smash Bros. for 3DS/Wii U have flawed abilities on them, which generally make the positive to negative stat ratio on them much more appealing, and some of them are notably not much of a problem.
    • Flaws that affect item use, like the one that lowers the damage of thrown items, or the one that lowers the health restored by food, aren't much of a concern since they're very situational; items appear randomly and many players don't play with them turned on anyway. The Risky Respawner flaw is especially useful. The stat gains from it are very high, and all it does is remove the two seconds of invincibility you get when you return to the stage after a death. Not only is it an easy sacrifice to make, but in certain game modes and matches where you only have one life anyway you lose absolutely nothing.
    • The Shield Degenerator flaw is another example. It's usually better to dodge attacks as opposed to blocking them, and the flaw itself isn't really that noticeable at all. Even more effective for characters with counterattacks, which can serve the same purpose.

  • Cataclysm lets you take disadvantages for up to 12 bonus points. Some of these are rather inconsequential.
    • The Ugly and Truth Teller traits only affect NPC interactions. Since NPCs are turned off by default, they're basically free points, and the effect of the traits are negligible even if you do have NPCs enabled.
    • Poor Hearing is almost advantageous to take, since you can still hear nearby monsters, which is the main use of hearing, and you are less likely to be woken up by noises while sleeping.
    • Trigger Happy gives you a small chance to randomly activate burst fire when shooting an automatic weapon. If you don't plan on using automatic weapons, it's a free point, and even if you do the chance of it activating is quite small (1/30), making it quite manageable.
    • Far-sighted prevents you from reading books and gives a penalty to melee accuracy and crafting when you're not wearing glasses. However, glasses are quite common, and you're guaranteed to start with a pair, so you should be fine as long as you carry a spare pair of glasses in case they break.
    • Thin Skin increases the cutting damage you take by 1, which is trivial.

    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.
  • Stagger Lock weapons in Final Fantasy XIII. They have higher than average stats in both Strength and Magic, but can't stagger enemies on their own. Fortunately, the other characters can stagger enemies. Plus the weapons can all synthesize the Random: Instant Chain skill. Most people usually give one to their main Commando, i.e. Fang or Snow, since they'll almost never stagger an enemy anyways and will always benefit from the damage boost.
    • Sazh's Pleiades Hi-Powers and their upgrade the Hyades Magnums. Phenomenal Strength stats, but no Magic and it drops you HP by a ton. However, Sazh has the second highest HP, so the HP drop isn't that much of an issue and if the player is using Sazh, they'll mostly be using his Blitz, which runs off of Strength. This makes him hit like a tank with very little downside.

    Tabletop Games 
  • 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 bonus 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. There is also "Neutrad Dependency" and "Poisonous blood". The first being a mutation that gives you 6 points and makes you roll fortitude saves or get Constitution damage unless you take a Neutrad dose every day (and taking a Neutrad dose fixes the damage), the second making your blood poison itself and requiring a daily Antitox dose or suffer the same effects, and gives you as many points. Sounds bad right? Except Neutrad and Antitox are cheap and freely available commodities (unless you play D20 Apocalypse).
    • 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.
  • Meticulous from Pathfinder. For getting a -2 when making a skill check for which you are untrained (few skills are ever worth using untrained), you gain a bonus trait (traits are small buffs).
  • 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 NPCs 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.
  • 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, or the Check Required flaw. 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.

    Third Person Shooter 
  • Kid Icarus: Uprising has negative weapon abilities that can used to free up more value room for better abilities, many of which are nullified with the right setup. For example lowering melee damage on ranged weapons, or lowering ranged damage on melee weapons. Certain play styles don't need speed at all and can have it lowered without missing it, and the negative Heart Boost modifier (which decreases the amount of currency you get by defeating enemies) has no effect at all in multiplayer.

    Turn Based Strategy 
  • Disgaea 4: A Promise Unforgotten contains a scaling xp/mana(used to pay for new or upgraded abilities)/money system. Once you've gotten about half way throught he game the amount of money you're earning through grinding and story missions is so large than you can scale back the money to about 5% in exchange for almost doubling the amount of xp you earn without any real impact. Add in the enemy level up tiles and harder enemies options and it's incredibly easy to fly through the levels.


  • While the stats in This War of Mine aren't malleable, the Lack of Empathy characteristic becomes a moot point for those who don't harm innocents or commit atrocities, thus negating the need for morale boosting. Roman (a survivor who excels in combat), in particular, becomes a Game Breaker provided he's in a good mood. Substance addictions (coffee drinkers and smokers) are also rendered redundant as long as the player does good deeds.