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Game Breaker / Dungeons & Dragons

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    Dungeons & Dragons 2nd edition 
D&D 2nd Edition Skills and Powers had a mage variant called Channeler, which effectively combined mage and sorcerer (you could learn as many spells as you wanted and cast them all however many times you wanted until you ran out of spell points). The only downside? You fatigued yourself when you cast a spell (and yes, you could kill yourself this way). There was an 8th-level spell called Heart of Stone that replaced your heart with a carved stone one. Among other effects, it made you completely immune to fatigue.
  • In the 2nd Edition of Dungeons & Dragons the Psionicist's Dimensional Door wasn't limited to vertically standing doors. Open a horizontal door below your target, put the horizontal exit above them. Let them fall for a while (the disorientation effect keeps them from casting or doing anything to save themselves). This either ends with the target being cut in half by a closing door or splatting against the floor. Good fun. Meanwhile the Psi is constantly getting EXP for expending power points. That's thinking with portals. That psionic power was also a popular means of drowning castles with their own moats or, with enough psionicists, the ocean. It was also a useful bomb delivery system, magical or otherwise.

    Dungeons & Dragons 3.X 
  • Almost anything can be a game breaker if taken to a great enough extreme. Characters can instantly end every encounter with a successful Diplomacy check which it is possible to render impossible to fail at a very, very low level. This is only the tip of the iceberg; even without exploitative min-maxing, all the spellcasting classes are almost hopelessly broken by the seventh level, and canny players can break the game with low-level spells like Color Spray, Sleep, and Glitterdust. The so-called "save or suck" spells all instantly incapacitate monsters or otherwise render them unable to fight, and many of these spells exist even at the lowest levels, allowing spellcasters to bypass the entire hit point system and kill monsters with a single roll. Worse, spellcasters also have huge levels of flexibility and can make themselves effectively invincible against many ordinary attacks, have near-infinite mobility by mid-levels, have the best offensive and defensive capabilities, and are the best at making magic items, which themselves can often act as game breakers or exaggerate a character's game-breaking abilities. Even non-spellcasting classes can frequently do incredibly convenient things, such as dealing more damage than any monster has hit points in a single round by mid-levels. As is noted in the unofficial (but widely accepted) tier list for the game, the third tier is not an insult to characters. A third-tier character is capable of defeating any monster in the game; they simply are not God.
  • It's worth noting that, unlike with video games, it's common accepted practice for the DM to limit the options available to players to a subset of what is available and to disallow the Loophole Abuse that most of these builds are built on. And if the players do end up building a completely formidable character anyway, they'll generally work with the DM to make adjustments so the game is still fun for everyone. So unlike with video games, it's okay for a Tabletop RPG to risk combinatorial explosion by continually giving the players more options.
  • The Game-Breaker status of so many things in 3.x is so universally known that the most common Character Tiers consider Tier 3 (the upper middle tier) to be the "not broken" category, while both Tier 2 and Tier 1 are considered this trope. The difference is simply that Tier 2 is broken, but it's still somewhat restricted and predictable in how it's broken, while a Tier 1 class can functionally do anything, if given a bit of time to prepare.
    • The Wizard in 3.x is iconic for its broken status, and being a major inspiration for Linear Warriors, Quadratic Wizards. So many of the things that made wizards a risky option in earlier editions were removed, and the result was a class that was functionally unstoppable when properly played past about 5th level. Their casting keyed off the highly useful Intelligence, giving them a mess of skill points. Their Squishy Wizard status was easily allayed with a few protective spells (Mage Armor lasted hours and boosted you up to the level of scale mail, and Mirror Image or Displacement made you almost unhittable). Their spells per day were a little limited compared to the sorcerer, but this was remedied simply by specializing (especially as the Enchantment and Evocation schools were seen as below-par), and they also advanced through levels faster. Their spellbook, theoretically their weak spot, could be hidden through magic (such as Rope Trick or Shrink Item). And that spellbook itself snapped the game in two, giving a wizard an arsenal of tricks for a pittance of gold that could handle virtually any situation. Even when restricted to core, wizards can do things most classes scarcely dream of.
    • A Cleric with the proper buffs up can be a better fighter than most proper fighters. Even when they aren't shooting for this, they have similar strengths to the wizard in terms of their insane versatility, and are arguably better in several regards. They can prepare any spell on the cleric list without needing to pay anything or watch for a spellbook. Their starting weapon and armor proficiencies are enough to get them through the early game with no problem, and they get to do most of the few things a wizard can't easily do (like healing). Their skill points are a bit poor, but between the stupidly good Divine Insight and the Cloistered Cleric variant, that's nowhere near as big a problem as you'd think. And with their domains, they have a whole other level of customization that allows them to assume almost any party role. Clerics may not have as many broken tricks as the wizard, but they are no less deadly, and in some regards even easier.
    • Even sticking to core, Druids have powers (casting, wildshape and animal companion) a single one of which would make a competent character. They have special abilities that are more powerful than entire classes. As an example, the guy who built the system showed a variant where all spellcasting became extremely difficult, knocking most spellcasters from the lofty heights of tier 1 and 2 down to tier 6. Druids however were still at the high end of tier 3. Why? A single class ability of course: Wild Shape, an ability that is in and of itself more powerful than a Fighter's whole class (indeed, a Ranger variant with a nerfed version of Wild Shape as its primary ability is at the low end of tier 3). Actually, twinked out animal companions are stronger than Fighters. There's a reason why CoDzilla (Cleric-or-Druid-zilla) became a DnD meme.
      • One disadvantage to Wild Shape is that you can't cast spells in animal form - unless you take the Natural Spell feat, a core feat which lets you do just that. This combination allows druids to have their cake and eat it too, gaining the animal's combat ability along with their druidic spells. The feat is so universally taken that it's joked in druid guides that you mysteriously lose your 6th-level feat and nobody knows why.
    • The Archivist essentially mashes together the cleric and wizard, with exactly the results you'd expect. They cast like a wizard from a prayerbook, but scribe cleric spells into that book. Where are they broken? They can also scribe ANY DIVINE SPELL, as long as they have a scroll for it. That means, in theory, they can use not just cleric spells, but also druid spells, paladin spells, ranger spells, prestige class spells, every spell that's part of a domain... oh, and since many of those spells are lower-level than their cleric counterparts, the archivist even picks them up earlier. Oh, and there are divine bard and wizard variants, so in theory those spells are on the table, too. Though they're massively dependent on how much a DM will actually let you find or purchase such scrolls, an archivist at full power can cast essentially any spell in the game.
    • Eberron's Artificer may be rather cumbersome to manage and need a fair bit of downtime, but when unrestricted, there is very little they can't do. With the power of magic items, they can duplicate almost any spell in the game, have magical gear several levels ahead of when they're supposed to, and accomplish some bizarre feats. Being able to craft almost anything opens up entire lanes of possibilities, and makes them very difficult to nail down. A good artificer can fill almost any role, being unparalleled in terms of party support, battlefield control, healing, blasting, and even melee combat.
    • The Erudite class in 3.5 is not broken in and of itself. It has the ability to eventually learn every psionic power there is, but this just makes it the psionic equivalent of a Wizard, whereas other psionic classes would be focused spellcasters like Beguilers or Warmages. The "Mind's Eye" series of columns on Wizards of the Coast website, however, provides an alternate class feature called Convert Spell to Power. For the cost of giving up a single bonus feat at 1st level, this feature grants Spellcraft as a class skill and allows the Erudite to use it to study any arcane spell, convert it into a psionic power, pay a small (e.g., 400 XP at 20th level) cost to permanently learn that power, and then use it at will for as long as their Mana Meter holds out. So not only is your Erudite a psionic-type Wizard, he's now also a mutant wizard-type Wizard that can spontaneously cast like a Sorcerer and isn't subject to arcane spell failure. Perhaps even more alarmingly, the spell-to-power Erudite can even ignore costly material components. The price of these materials is often the only thing preventing incredibly powerful spells from being cast as routinely as any other spell of their level.
  • Some of the monsters fall into this category as well against unprepared players. Many monsters have instant death or incapacitation abilities which can take a PC out of combat or, in some cases, even turn them against their allies; enemy spellcasters are a particular nightmare, due to having access to every superior ability that the players have (and, thanks to polymorph and similar shapechanging abilities, players have access to every formidable monster ability as well). High level combat in 3.x edition (including Pathfinder) is often described as "rocket tag" for this reason — whoever fails their saving throw first, loses. Assuming the ability in question even allows you to roll a saving throw. Feats which improve your ability to act first in combat thus are viewed as extremely powerful, simply because very frequently, it gives you an enormous edge by allowing you to take out one or more enemies before they can even act — and prevent them from doing the same to you.
  • Using the Serpent Kingdoms sourcebook it's possible to construct a perfectly legal character (a kobold dubbed "Pun-Pun" by its creator) who possesses every ability in the game (including godhood) at infinite strength and is immune to all negative effects at level 1. This combination does require assuming a certain intelligent NPC involved in the process (and by extension, the DM) to follow a very specific script without any deviation, as well as asking (and trusting) an Efreet to grant you three wishes for no compensation (or allowing it to enslave or murder you on the spot). There are slightly more delayed/demanding versions that don't involve this Batman Gambit or cheesing off of genies, however, only requiring you to get up to level 5 instead of requiring the rest of the universe to conspire in your character's favor.
  • Another particularly special example is the Omniscificer. There is a spell which allows you to share the damage you take with others, and it is possible to cast this spell in both directions; because each person receives half the damage given, if you cast this on four people taking half the damage of a fifth person, and in turn dealing back to that fifth person half the damage they themselves receive; as you would then be receiving back a quarter of the damage you originally took from each of the four people, you thus have created an infinite damage loop (so long as you have dealt yourself at least 4 points of damage - say, by jumping off a 40 foot cliff), causing you to instantly take an infinite amount of damage as the damage washes back and forth between you and your helpers. Ordinarily this would be extremely fatal, but there is another spell which allows you to stay alive for a short period of time despite being reduced to -10 or fewer hit points (which would normally kill you). There is also a spell called masochism which causes you to gain a +1 bonus to all your skill checks per 10 damage you took in the previous round; as you have taken an infinite amount of damage, you now have a literally infinite bonus to all your skill checks, allowing you to succeed at any skill check automatically. Better still, there are (extremely large) penalties you can take to many skill checks to instantly take certain actions, and other skill checks are by their very nature instant (such as knowledge checks). This means that the Omniscificer can, among other things, instantly succeed at every knowledge check possible and thus know everything that can possibly be known from a successful knowledge check. They also have an infinitely large diplomacy (and bluff, and intimidate) check, meaning that they can convince anyone of anything, and with the proper spells, can communicate with anyone (including the gods), meaning that they can convince the GODS of anything. Now, all of this is impressive, but they are still stuck in an infinite damage loop; however, they can simply dismiss the spell creating that loop, and then fall over into a bucket of water and voluntarily fail a drown check. Due to the way that drowning rules work in D&D, when you fail your first drown check, your hit points are instantly set to 0... meaning that it heals you from -infinity hit points to a much more tolerable 0 hp, from which you can easily be resuscitated with any manner of curative magic (or alternatively, a contingent cure minor wounds spell). Or the characters simply die and then fall into the bucket. The order of operations isn't explicit in the core book.
    • The description of how drowning works in the Stormwrack supplement book makes this a moot point, and the whole process impossible (without dying). Characters who can't/don't hold their breath start drowning the round after they fall into the water.
  • Many of these to be found in Dungeons & Dragons 3.5, a few of which do not even require sourcebooks outside of core (Pun-Pun is only the most famous as he basically amasses all of the others' powers). A full list of these may be found here along with explanations. Yes, the official D&D forums have an entire board dedicated to the pursuit of the most hilarious/demented Game Breakers ever (though the logic behind many of them is equivalent to "But the rules don't SAY dead people can't keep fighting and taking actions!").
    • And it's not all about character design or game mechanics either. For instance, a 10 foot ladder is cheaper than two 10 foot poles, allowing for an infinite money loop and infinite firewood. (Think about it.)
  • Another Tabletop Games example: The haste spell in Dungeons & Dragons version 3.0. Originally redesigned the way it was to "show off" the new action rules, designers learned the hard way that there was such a thing as an action "economy" in their resulting game... and whoops, they broke it. Nerfing this spell was arguably one of the primary reasons for the creation of 3.5.
    • To make this one step worse, the "speed" armor enchantment permanently duplicated the haste spell and was cheap, which wouldn't have been so bad, except then the Arms and Equipment Guide established that armor enchantments could be added to bracers which could be worn by characters who don't normally get to wear armor. Every mage in his right mind bought a pair as soon as he could afford them, as an item that grants +1 armor bonus, +4 dodge bonus, AND lets you cast twice as many spells per round without having to ever take the action to cast Haste is a steal at 16,000 gp.
  • D&D 3.0's Harm, full stop. A no-save touch attacknote  that leaves a target with 1d4 hp. So the more hit points a target has, the more damage it's going to take. (It did the same in earlier editions, but 3rd edition increased the Hit Points of most non-Mooks about fourfold while keeping damage spells the same; so Harm became four times as effective as most other spells of its level.)
    • If the cleric is feeling even more sadistic, they can toss in a Quickened Inflict Light Wounds. ILW is normally a poor spell, but it's guaranteed to deal at least 6 damage (assuming you're a high enough level to cast Harm yourself) to an opponent who has no more than 4 hp left. The result: a one-turn KO.
  • Another D&D version involves what is typically dubbed the Locate City bomb. There is a spell called "Locate City" (a harmless divination spell), which has a area of effect of 10 miles per caster level. This is the crux of the thing — by the intent of the spell, that number ought to be its range, but making it the area of effect allows one to use an obscure series of feats to first give it the Cold subtype, then deal 2 Cold damage to everything in the area of effect, then change it to an Electric type spell. You can then use another feat that gives an Electric spell a Reflex save, allowing you to apply the Explosive Spell metamagic, forcing a second Reflex save to avoid being blasted to the edge of the area of effect. Failing this save will deal 1d6 damage for each 10ft travelled, allowing someone to instantly wipe out a whole city of commoners with no collateral damage (except for the blood splatters). Eventually, players figured out that this didn't actually work, but as all the problems were due to Locate City having a 2-D circle as its area of effect, some slightly higher-level spells that scaled to a 1 mile/caster level sphere fixed them. Although this is a mere 10% of Locate City, it should be noted that on average the damage dealt by one mile in this fashion is roughly four times the hp of the biggest, baddest dragon a party is likely to ever see before epic levels. Unfortunately, however, if there is any obstacle anywhere between a given victim and the nearest edge of the blast, they simply smack into it for 1d6 points of damage and stop moving. Thus, any commoners who are inside or otherwise near any impediment to movement would only be injured. There is also the risk of the caster being caught in the radius.
  • A simple 3.5 spell which is not high level, does not appear exclusively in an obscure sourcebook (it's in the Player's Handbook), and doesn't require a cheesy combination to work is the level 3 Bard spell 'Glibness'. In a game system where +4 or +6 to a roll is considered a considerable bonus, Glibness gives +30 to your bluff checks for its duration (10 minutes per caster level, a minimum duration of over an hour). The penalty to your Bluff skill check for telling a lie that is completely and utterly unbelievable ("I am the Moon.") is only +20 to the opposing Sense Motive check. With Glibness, you can quite easily convince a king that you and he were actually secretly swapped at birth and that by all rights he's sitting on your throne. A single spell that can make a GM scream in fury. Glibness' power was highlighted to great effect in an Order of the Stick strip. The intended balance is that Glibness only provides its bonus for the purpose of telling lies and not any of the Bluff skill's combat applications, but as has been shown, lying is quite broken enough by itself.
    • Glibness can be seen as a subset of the entire game breaker that is otherwise known as the Diplomacy skill. Under the rules as written, it requires a result of 50 to turn someone willing to take risks to hurt you (Hostile) into an ally willing to take risks to help you (Helpful). Considering it's legally possible to build characters who get +72 to their Diplomacy rolls by level 6, in theory you need never carry a single weapon nor fight anyone in your life, since you'll only have to open your mouth for roughly 10 seconds to enlist the help of anything smart enough to have a language.note 
    • Of course, you have to have a common language (or other way to communicate) and the things trying to hurt you have to be smart enough to understand the concept of "friend" (and preferably not in an unhelpful way), so it's not foolproof. Also, no facet of the Bluff skill ensures against the target changing their mind in the face of contrary evidence. A bluff is given no guarantee of lasting any longer than it might take to notice proof to the contrary (which, for a claim like "I am the moon", may be seconds at best) - "usually 1 round or less" is the most the rules afford.
    • Pathfinder closed this loophole by doing what any sensible GM would do and stating in the rules that some things are so unbelievable no Bluff check will ever let you convince anyone that they are true. Additional sourcebooks later clarified that a very assured Bluff check just makes the listener think you are very confident in what you say, that is, not actively lying to them. A king being told by a very convincing stranger that they were swapped at birth will likely conclude that the strange fool he's speaking with believes very strongly in a false scenario.
  • Prestidigitation can clean a small surface, and is an easily accessible cantrip. Urban Arcana has a feat you can take at the start of the campaing giving you uses of a cantrip a number of times per day. Then you can become a Mage at level 4. Enough prepared Prestidigitation makes you the perfect cleaner. Crime Scene Cleaner to be precise.
  • Blink, Ethereal Jaunt, and similar spells which let the caster pass through walls and ignore attacks have been the bane of many an unseasoned DM. Heck, just about everything on the Story-Breaker Power page is available as a spell.
  • It's hard to find a use for Invisible Spell (viewers cannot tell that your spell has taken effect) that isn't overpowering. Common uses include Invisible Summon Monster, Invisible Fog Cloud (only obscures the vision of creatures who can see invisible things), Invisible Invisibility, and Invisible True Resurrection.
  • By combining feats from multiple sourcebooks, it's possible to reduce the cost of Bestow Power (transfers psionic energy to another creature) until it can transfer at greater than 100% efficiency, allowing a character to recharge their psionic abilities between fights. This wouldn't be as notable if psionic characters didn't have the ability to boost the strength of their powers by expending larger amounts of energy (meaning that a character using this trick can "go nova" in every fight with no consequences).
  • Once you get out of core, there's the ludicrously overpowering Planar Shepherd, which happens to be custom made for Druids (and possibly the only Prestige Class strictly better than more Druid levels). Other gamebreaking prestige classes include the Dweomerkeeper, famously used in the "Cheater" (Chosen) of Mystra, which could circumvent almost all all the restrictions on Wish and Miracle, and use both multiple times per day.
    • No discussion of broken prestige classes is complete without the Player's Guide to Faerun Incantatrix. First, the requirements: third-level spells, three skills you were already taking, a feat you were already taking, and a feat that you can actually buy. Most casters qualify by accident. It gives full spellcasting progression, which means it's automatically better than continuing with most caster classes. Most full casting prestige classes provide minor benefits or only run for a few levels, but the Incantatrix runs for ten - and its features are some of the strongest in the game, with three free metamagic featsnote , applying metamagic effects to an ally's spells (or your own), stealing continuous effects from enemy casters, and a capstone so overpowering that it's normally an epic feat. Pump up Spellcraft, and you can cast all your buffs at the start of the day, and Persist them at minimal effort. Picture a 20th-level wizard with Prismatic Sphere, Shapechange, Superior Invisibility, True Seeing, Haste, Freedom of Movement, Globe of Invulnerability, Elemental Body... all at the same time, all day long.
    • The Hulking Hurler. The damage of a thrown object is proportional to its mass and limited only by your carrying capacity. If you qualify for the class at all, it's a one-hit-kill. Optimized HH builds have been known to do TRILLIONS of damage. The supposed 'balancing factor' for the Hulking Hurler was that it required the character taking the prestige class to be Large size or larger, which put it out of reach for most PCs without taking a truckload of monster hit dice or level adjustment. It probably wasn't meant to be used by player characters at all, but players found ways around the restriction (such as enlarge person with permanency), or the rather low-LA half-ogre. Or the goliath race, which counts as Large for some things including (thanks to a Word of God clarification in the game's FAQ) meeting the requirements for feats, spells, prestige classes, etc that require the character to be Large sized making it easy for characters to qualify for a class that wasn't designed for players.
    • The ur-priest. Nay-Theist characters who steal power from the gods, they gain cleric-style casting that happens to be better than most clerics. Though it starts a bit slow, its rate of growth is explosive, gaining a new level of spells with every character level. A proper ur-priest can earn 9th-level spells three levels before the clerics, if they enter it as soon as possible. Its own class features are a little lackluster, but that just means you can start as an ur-priest and then immediately hop into something else that advances its casting. The class is so powerful that it can even be used to buff up prestige classes that are otherwise hampered by bad casting advancement, like the mystic theurge. And one of the few features it does pick up is Rebuke Undead, making Divine Metamagic antics feasible. You do have to be evil and pick up some lackluster feats to play one, but it's well worth the trouble for an aspiring overlord.
    • The tainted scholar is a class one badly hopes wasn't meant for player use. It uses The Corruption to cast spells, including replacing its casting stat with its Taint score. Said Taint score can increase every time you cast a spell. You can also take Constitution damage to remove the level boosts on metamagic, letting you do some truly insane feats. You're locked into it, but that doesn't really matter when it provides full casting, allows features of its own, and even has a better HD than most arcane casting classes. If you take too much Taint, you die, but simply becoming undead or gaining the Evil subtype in some fashion makes you immune to this, and even then, you can comfortably have a Taint and Depravity score of 30 or 40 without being much in danger.
    • The Soul Eater definitely wasn't meant for players, but it's not at all difficult for them to qualify for. At 1st level, it sticks a Level Drain effect on anyone to be hit by a natural attack. There are so many routes to increase your numbers of natural attacks; a two-level dip in totemist alone nets four attacks. And at 7th level, the Level Drain gets twice as strong. Anyone you kill turns into a wight under your command, netting a free army. And at 6th, you gain the ability to shapeshift into anyone you've killed in the last 24 hours, gaining all their abilities. Want to break the game as a melee class? The world is your oyster.
  • Finally, in our survey of D&D options which don't rely on an unforeseen combination of feats and/or spells to break the game, consider the spell Shivering Touch from the sourcebook Frostburn (and well you should, since the game's creators clearly did not). When you cast it, you touch your target (usually not hard since D&D's combat system tends to focus around getting through armor to inflict damage rather than simply touching them - though spellcasters or creatures with certain exotic or class-granted defense bonuses may have very high touch AC). That target then suffers between 3-18 points of damage to its Dexterity. Because the aforesaid monsters generally have a low Dexterity, depending on how well you roll this will actually penalize an opponent's AC by up to -5 if you take their Dexterity to 0, and also render them unable to move. The phrase 'sitting duck' then applies to your opponent. As an added bonus, unlike most other seriously powerful spells in 3.5, Shivering Touch does not allow a saving throw against it. The only beasts that stand a chance of avoiding death by clumsiness are those with spell resistance. Not bad for a spell which any cleric or wizard can cast from level 5; in some spheres this spell is called the dragon killer. And that's even before you look into things like applying metamagic to it.
    • Want to break the game with just two spells? Cast Contigency, make your contigent spell Celerity. Congratulations; the next time somebody threatens you, you get a free standard action to do whatever you want. You can even cast Twinned Celerity. Then use the extra actions from Twinned Celerity to cast TWO Twinned Celerities. Sure, you get dazed next turn, but if there's an encounter you can't finish or escape when given four free standard actions, it's time to give up on the whole "wizardry" thing.
    • Polymorph. Any. Object. All but the most frugal interpretations of this spell are absurdly broken, particularly considering that some interpretations allow for removal of the HD limit to Polymorph (an example of the spell is turning someone into a stone, which has no HD), or transforming a creature repeatedly to make any form permanent. How do you feel about permanently turning the party fighter into a giant, or the party wizard into an ethergaunt with 27 Intelligence? Plus, in a pinch, it's a nasty little save-or-die.
    • Shapechange isn't as broken as PAO, but it more than makes up for it in versatility. Unlike the other Polymorph spells, Shapechange lets you assume the supernatural abilities of whatever you turn into. Turn into a Chronotyryn and take two turns! Turn into a Solar and gain full cleric casting! Turn into a Golem and gain near-complete spell immunity! And that's ignoring the fact that you can assume another form mid-shapeshift.
    • There is no usage of Genesis (once an epic spell, 'downgraded' to a 9th-level spell) that isn't completely broken. Free demiplane? That only you know the location of? And you can determine the traits of? Including, say, making it a Fast-Flowing Time plane? Or giving it morphic traits, letting you warp it to your will? About the only justification for it is that by the time you've gotten 9th-level spells, the game is basically over anyway.
    • The Orb spells introduced in Complete Arcane, which take nearly every complaint about blasting in the game and throw it in the trash. They have good damage, hit on a ranged touch attack, ignore Spell Resistance, come in every damage type (including the nigh-unresistable Sound and Force), don't offer a Reflex save, come in lesser and greater versions, and apply bonus effects on top of their damage. On top of all that, they're inexplicably Conjuration rather than Evocation spells, meaning a specialist wizard can safely bar Evocation and still have a powerful blasting option.
  • Want to destroy the world? Pick a melee class. The metabreath feats in the Draconomicon allow a creature with a true breath weapon—which was not available to players at the time without jumping through a lot of hoops—to improve the damage/range/staying power/etc. of a breath weapon at the cost of extending the cooldown between uses, and they could be stacked with themselves. A 5th level green dragon shaman with 17 Constitution and the feats Enlarge Breath, Clinging Breath, and Lingering Breath could, in a single round, theoretically create a cloud of acid the size of the entire planet that lasted for a year or more at the cost of not getting to use his breath weapon for several years. The only problem is that anything that did survive (high-level wizards, earth elementals, etc.) would come looking for revenge slightly sooner than that.
  • Eschew Materials, weak-ass feat or subtle game breaker? This feat will let you cast spells without having to worry about inexpensive material components, provided they cost less than 1 GP. This is mainly useful if you lose your spell component pouch, or don't have a hand free to reach it. But there are a few spells where you can squeeze a surprising amount out of a 1 gp budget:
    • Fabricate's material component is the raw materials to craft something, so you can create anything whose raw materials cost less than 1 gp out of thin air. This covers pretty much any mundane adventuring gear - food, rope, backpacks...
    • Visit the astral plane (or any plane that has the timeless trait - assuming you don't have any aging problems, this is a separate but solvable issue...) and cast fabricate as many times as you can to generate 1 silver piece each time, making you rich in no time when you come back to the material plane (if quite possibly insane from boredom and loneliness).
    • Another clever use is with the 0-level spell Launch Bolt, which lets you shoot a crossbow bolt without using a crossbow. Normally, this is useless - you could just carry a light crossbow instead. But a crossbow bolt sized for a Gargantuan crossbow (meant to be carried by creatures eight times your size, basically a ballista) is cheaper than 1 gp. So you can fire them with this spell, for 4d6 damage a shot. Not bad for a 0-level spell.
  • The feat Divine Metamagic allowed Clerics to apply power-up modifiers to their spells, but at the cost of Turn Undead uses for a day. This would normally be fairly useful, but it became a Game Breaker when a magical rod was added to the game which grants an extra few Turn Undead attempts when used. Clerics could carry huge sacks of rods around and use them at the start of each day to cast multiple spells on themselves, extended to 24-hour duration.
  • The spell Mind Rape, which can be basically summarized as "fail a save, and the caster gets to rewrite your personality". The first spellcaster to learn it and be evil enough to use it gets to take over the multiverse.
  • The Teleport spell is generally seen as a game breaker when given to a sufficiently high-level wizard played by a sufficiently clever player. Entire campaigns' worth of notes are rendered irrelevant as the players, not the DM, suddenly set the pace for their movement and decide what parts of the campaign they will or will not participate in. Armed with the ability to scry out the Big Bad's lair, most parties at levels 9 and above could simply perform a Dungeon Bypass and Teleport themselves directly into the Big Bad's throne room and kill him using any number of pre-planned strategies and buffs, or simply Teleport away to safety if things went south, a tactic commonly known as "scry and die". The latter became so noticeable that Wizards of the Coast eventually created a spell solely for the purpose of allowing enemies to detect incoming teleports and prepare against them... A spell that, naturally, was also available to wizards. By 4th edition Wizards of the Coast had eliminated the spell entirely: Its ritual counterpart only worked between pre-prepared ritual sites.
  • The Candle of Invocation is a famously broken item, thanks to its ability to summon an Outsider. Summon an Efreeti, and you get three wishes. Use just one of those wishes for another Candle, and voila: infinite wishes.
    • For that matter, you can just cast Gate directly. It's the same level as Wish and costs 1,000 XP, but that's a fifth the minimum XP cost, you get three wishes instead of one, and you can wish for magic items without paying their XP cost. What makes the Candle unique is merely that it puts Gate on the menu for every class, and for a price that an adventurer with proper wealth-by-level can afford as early as 5th level.
  • The binder is generally seen as very well-balanced, with many good options but no Game-Breaker ones... with one big exception in the online vestige Zceryll. When binding Zceryll, you gain damage reduction, resistance to acid and electricity, the outsider type, an alternate form that provides a -1 to attack rolls against it, and True Strike. Sound good? That's just the first benefit, that being it making you pseudonatural. Next, it grants you immunity to confusion effects and a bonus against mental attacks. Nice? Not done. You can fire bolts that cause the target to take no actions if they fail a save. Very good? Still not done. You have telepathy out to a hundred feet, and the Mindsight feat, which lets you detect the location, types, and intellect of all creatures within your telepathy range. Amazing? One more: you gain a Summon Monster effect that scales to your level, has a good duration, sticks the pseudonatural template on everything you summon, and can be used every five rounds, letting you spam it endlessly. This one vestige is seen as bumping the binder from "powerful but balanced" Tier 3 to "more or less broken" Tier 2.
  • White Raven Tactics is one of the few things from Tome of Battle that the entire fanbase can agree about being broken. It essentially amounts to giving one of your allies an extra turn right after you, even if they already acted that round, without even needing to give up yours. Giving someone two turns is as broken as it sounds, and it remains viable all the way to the endgame. It's seen as the martial counterpart to Celerity and 3.0 Haste, and a good reason to have a warblade cohort. And let's not even get into the question of whether you can use it on yourself...
    • Iron Heart Surge is the other one. It's meant to simply represent a character throwing off a disease or an enchantment or a debuff with Heroic Willpower, but the way it's worded is absurdly loose. It lets you select "an effect" with a duration of one or more rounds that is currently affecting you, and then end it. When used as intended, it's quite handy, but there are so many things that can qualify as "an effect with a duration of one or more rounds", and it doesn't say its effect on you ends, just the effect as a whole. As written, that means if you use it while in the vicinity of a poison gas cloud, it's not that you don't take damage—the cloud just instantly disperses. In theory, one could use Iron Heart Surge to end things like planar traits, states of existence, or gravity. No sane DM will let you use it this way, but if you find an insane one, feel free to go to town..
  • Epic Spellcasting, on top of being a Scrappy Mechanic, is totally broken when used with any degree of cleverness, due to how easy it is to toy with mitigating factors. The idea's pretty simple: you have a bunch of basic effects, you can cast them if you make a Spellcraft check, and you can raise the DC to make the effects more powerful or lower it to make them worse or add more qualifiers onto it. One mitigating factor is "other casters have to donate spells, and each one can only donate one spell." But if you have the Leadership feat and an easily-obtained score of 25, all your cohorts and followers are casters and all of them donate their best spell, then you hit a -218 on the Spellcraft DC, a number that can skyrocket even higher if you throw Epic Leadership or Legendary Commander into the mix. Alternatively, you can use the above Genesis/Fast Time method, and take a -220 while working on a spell for 100 days that last five minutes for everyone else. Or you can take advantage of the fact that the Fortify seed allows you to add SR to a creature, with a -2 for every point of it below 25, to add it to a spell and give the target an SR of -500 (which has basically no ingame effect) in exchange for the abilities you actually wanted. Even games that play at epic levels tend to ban epic spellcasting for how absurd it can be.
  • Leadership itself is banned incredibly commonly. The low-level followers you pick up are just gravy; the real advantage is being able to pick up a cohort who's only a few levels lower than you. An entire spare character that doesn't use up XP is just so bluntly useful that it's considered mandatory if you have a DM who's dumb enough to allow it.
  • The combination of Leap Attack (increases the multiplier of Power Attack's damage bonus if you charge and jump) and Shock Trooper (allows a character to take Power Attack's penalty away from AC instead of attack when charging) resulted in the ridiculously powerful "ubercharger" build, capable of dealing hundreds of points of damage in a single rush with the proper items. Being that it played on the already effective Power Attack feat, it was almost universally taken among any character that planned to fight in melee and could afford the feats. There are commoner builds that can one-shot dragons with this fighting style.
  • The "flaws" variant in Unearthed Arcana may be a variant, but it seems intended to be balanced. And if that's the case, they failed miserably. Flaws are a Min Maxers Delight, as it's laughably easy to just take a flaw in something you're either already incredibly good at (a -1 to AC when you wear full plate armor) or incredibly bad at (a -3 to Reflex saves when you're as slow as a slug), and the potential to triple your number of bonus feats at 1st level is well worth it, especially since the feats can be used to patch the "hole" the flaw just made at a net profit.
  • Races of the Dragon turned kobolds into a Lethal Joke Character par excellence. They can take the Draconic Rite of Passage, netting them a free sorcerer spell for almost nothing, which can then be upgraded into the Greater Draconic Rite and give them a free sorcerer level for almost nothing. Being dragonblooded opens up a whole lot of avenues for insane stuff, including specialized spells. And then there's the Dragonwrought feat, which lets you be treated as a dragon at 1st level. This may sound innocuous, but it opens up a mess of rules normally meant to apply only to dragons. Dragons don't take ability score penalties for aging, letting you instantly start as Venerable and gain a +3 to all mental stats. Dragons of Old age or greater can take Epic feats. And if your DM is stupid enough to allow Loredrake, White Dragonspawn, or many other things exclusive to the type... well, suffice to say Sorcerer is no longer Tier 2.
  • Rules as written, checks for your sensory skills checks suffer such a massive penalty for distance (+1 to DC / 10') that it can lead to some absurdities. Adding that +10 DC for being 100' out, for example, can make stealth builds nearly impossible to detect, and rules-as-written, the characters shouldn't be able to notice a mountain a mile away (+528 to the DC). Many GM's ignore this.

    Dungeons & Dragons 4th Edition 
D&D 4th Edition has a large number of infinite combos IN THE CORE RULES:
  • There is a 15th level Ranger power called "Blade Cascade," which allows multiple hits as long as the previous hit connects. This inspired game-breaking accuracy builds; one such (Kenshiro "Ratata" Orcuslayer) could kill Orcus at level 15 as long as the player did not roll a 1 (which is an automatic failure) on the d20. Wizards of the Coast quickly issued an errata stating that the maximum number of hits on the power was 5 (1 per 1.25 seconds of the combat round).'
  • Sleep is a first level Daily spell that knocks people out, making them vulnerable to continuous Coup de Grâce attacks. You can use Salves of Power, (which cost 5000 GP and a Healing Surge) to regain this power. And until recently, getting a -16 continuous penalty to saves was quite easy (now it's basically impossible, although you can still get a fairly high penalty to saving throws for one or two rounds).
  • Everyone say "hi" to the Essentials classes, mostly found in the "Hero of X" books. Their intended use: get casual/first-time players into the game with a class-build that's far easier to deal with than most. Rather than potentially dozens of powers and situational options, you typically have your Melee/Ranged Basic Attack boosted in one way or another, either increasing the damage, adding effects or letting you make follow-up attacks. On its own, this isn't particularly bad, but those classes qualify for feats that modify basic attacks further. Want to push 3 squares, impose a -2 penalty to attacks on a hit OR miss, and eventually daze at will? You can! Add in the number of items and ally class-features (especially from warlords) that allow you to make basic attacks outside your turn, and you could have a character dealing more damage per round with basic attacks than most classes deal with encounter powers.
  • There is a first level cleric daily power called "Moment Of Glory" which gives the entire group resistance 5 to all damage, meaning most level 1 enemies can barely even hurt them, and lasts till the end of the encounter to boot. It's not quite the "I win" power it starts out as after level 5 or so, but by that point the cleric will have access to new daily powers.

    Dungeons & Dragons 5th edition 
The 5th Edition of D&D tried to avoid game breakers by limiting the ability of powers to combine together, but it still has some problems.
  • The power of a Warlock's Eldritch Blast is 1d10 of force damage that scales up with character level, not Warlock level. It's a cantrip which is unlocked at Level 1 for Warlocks, meaning that every character benefits from being a Warlock for a single level.
  • There are still a number of cheesetastic spells, or combinations thereof, but for the most part, they're all relegated to the later parts of the game.
    • Wish is a good example of this. In this edition, there are absolutely no repercussions for using this spell, so long as its used only to copy the effects of another spell. As a bonus, Wish ignores the casting times and other components of said spells.
    • Simulacrums copy all features from the creature they clone, including spells. Sure they're fragile, can't heal, and can't restore their spells, but this is still essentially an automated set of spell-scroll and a concentration-spell sink any way you look at it. And this doesn't even mitigate recharging any other limited-use abilities (i.e. Fighter's Action Surge).
    • Where this reaches true stupidity is when you combine both spells above. Normally, a caster is restricted to only a single active Simulacrum of their own at a time. But you can easily circumvent that by having the clone use the Simulacrum spell themselves. Or better, have it Wish its own Simulacrum of the caster for a minuscule percentage of the casting time and none of the other resources. And then the clone of the clone does the same. Cue instant Clone Army.
    • Polymorph is still a very problematic spell in this edition. Forms are now much stronger, since the recipient can assume a form whose CR (or Challenge Rating, a number roughly estimating how well it would challenge a party of a given character level) equals to their own level! Of course, it's a concentration spell, only allows for the shapes of beasts (none of which have a CR greater than 8), and the subject replaces all of their other features for the duration, but its still quite a buff. Even ignoring that function, the spell is effectly a "Save-or-Die" when used offensively, so long as you find other ways to kill the target without HP damage.
    • True Polymorph, on the other hand, is almost as silly as Polymorph Any Object was in 3.5 edition, possibly more so in some ways. This time, it doesn't even check for creature type (save for undead and constructs), size, material, or any of that jazz. The only limits this time are with the new form's CR, which has to be equal or less than the level or CR of the target, the new form can't be undead or a construct, and that permanency requires concentrating on the spell for the full duration. Like Polymorph, the new forms features replace all of your other features (yes, even spells), but even that's still no excuse to put Pit Fiends and Ancient Copper Dragons in the player's hands, nor the ability to transform the Tarrasque into an apple.
  • Moon Druids are the 'Disc-One Nuke' of this edition. This has everything to do with their Combat Wild Shape feature, which allows them to take the form of things like tigers and, worse, brown bears, at a humble level 2! What's worse is that, just like Polymorph above, they simply revert back to their old form, HP included, when their animal form gets killed off. And if that's not bad enough, they can use this feature twice per short rest! This makes Moon Druids among the most damaging and most damage-spongiest build for the first few levels, and that's before considering they've also a full allotment of spells. Fortunately, the power of their forms tapers off at around level 5 or so, and the designers at least had the mind to keep away Wild Spell... at least until level 18. And then things get silly once again at level 20, when Wild Shape can be used infinitely, reducing HP damage to a complete joke for the class.
  • Someone in the design team seems to really like Bards, because the Bard is seriously overpowered in 5th edition. For starters, Jack of All Trades now gives bonuses to skills you don't have rather than just negating penalties, this effectively means that there will never be a situation where the Bard cannot solve it with the direct approach. Though if that should fail then the Bard can just keep trying different appropriate skill checks until they find the one that works. Did we mention that this is an ability you get automatically? At level 2? While the lower dice bonus (half your proficiency bonus rather than full) seems like it might impede you it really doesn't: The bonus is so small at early levels you will only be at a 1 point loss or so. By the time the gap widens you've obtained more than enough power to make it a moot point. Especially since your spells now go up to level 9 (Apparently "Dabbling in magic" means a greater spell progression than the warlock). While your spell list would be fine in of itself, the Bard also gets an insanely OP ability that lets them take spells from other classes spell lists, up to the maximum spell level you can use, regardless of what archetype you end up picking, and the College of Lore gives an additional set of spells to you earlier than normal, with many considering that College the best caster in the game. This even lets you pick spells from levels that the class would normally have to be epic level to reach (Such as level 8 or 9 Warlock spells). What should be the most all-rounder class in the game ends up being a specialist in almost every field except physical combat and even then you're not bad, just not great at it. Though the right cantrips also make this a moot point. CoDzilla may be dead, but now there's BoDzilla!
    • One of the worst examples of this is the Ranger spell Swift Quiver, which normally gives a Ranger the ability to shoot twice from a weapon that uses a quiver as a bonus action, but can only be cast as a Level 5 Ranger spell. Since Rangers are a half-caster class, they don't get Level 5 spells until the very late levels. A bard, however, can snaffle the spell with Magical Secrets - and since a Bard is a full-caster, they get it 7 levels earlier than the class the spell is actually meant for.
  • Most wizard subclasses get quite ridiculous.
    • Evocation Wizard lets you use spells in ways they were never intended by protecting your friends (and most D Ms will let you protect yourself as well) from area of effects. [1] battlefield nukers like Dawn and Whirlwind can safely clear entire rooms of enemies. But what really pushes this subclass over the top is Overchannel — they get to maximize the damage roll on a 5th-level or lower spell once per day. Additional uses quickly cause escalating, unavoidable backlash damage that can instantly kill you. In theory. There are way to cheat the system, either by embracing your [2] status and accepting multiple revivals, creating clones with Astral Projection or Simulacrum, or abusing effects that set your damage received to near-zero.
    • Necromancer Wizard gets a feature that lets them permanently mind-control an undead creature that has a low enough intelligence score. This can be abused in two ways: True Polymorph to fetch whatever undead you'd like, Feeblemind to tank a beater monster's intelligence score.
    • Illusionist Wizard gets two of the most powerful abilities in 5th Edition. Malleable Illusions (which lets them change the parameters of otherwise fixed illusion spells on the fly) and Illusory Reality (which lets them make features of an illusion real). Malleable Illusions isn't that busted when you first get it, but it's here for two reasons. Mirage Arcana (already a gamebreaker) that allows you to reshape vast swaths of the battlefield and Creation. When cast out of a higher-level spell slot, Creation allows you to create a repairable and redeployable barrier out of a single spell slot that lasts for the entire day depending on material without concentration. Considering how Wall of Force is considered one of the best spells in the game, a better version of Wall of Force is just out of control. Illusory Reality's brokenness speaks for itself.
  • Certain multiclass combinations can get incredibly cheesy due to synergy between class features and abilities:
    • Sorcerer/Paladins (or "Sorcadins" if you'd prefer) have the ability to use high-level Sorcerer spell slots as high-octane fuel for Paladin smites, allowing some truly insane levels of burst damage. A Pal 6/Sorc 5 Sorcadin with 16 Str and an ordinary longsword can cast Hold Person as a bonus action and wallop with two critical attacks expending two Level 4 Spell Slots to achieve full smite power. The result? Two all-but guaranteed hits together doing 24d8+3 damage. The GM can kiss his precious BBEG (Big Bad Evil Guy) goodbye note . Not to mention you also have the full versatility that being a caster provides: Fireball, Hold Person, Mirror Image, Wall of Fire, Polymorph, Greater Invisibility...
    • Warlock/Sorcerers are commonly called "Coffeelocks". You can use the Pact Magic feature to convert Warlock spell slots into Sorcerer Metamagic points, and then use Sorcerer Metamagic points to convert into Sorcerer spell slots. The trick here is that Warlocks recover spell slots on a short rest, while Sorcerers normally do on a long rest. In other words, you become The Sleepless and only need to take long rests to use Hit Dice and recuperate... although even that becomes irrelevant if you are a Divine Soul Sorcerer or Celestial Warlock, as you get some healing spells.
  • The Druid spell Summon Woodland Creatures can be fairly broken in classic interpretation. It allows the Druid to summon a number of forest creatures with a fairly low CR limit, which seems OK.. except that one of those possible creatures is Pixies. Pixies are fairly low-level fey with only 1 HP each that could blow away in a stiff breeze, and you get 8 of them... but each of them comes with their own loadout of 1/day spells including Polymorph and Improved Invisibility, so 8 Pixies can polymorph your entire party into T. rexes. Was later fixed by errata stating that the GM, not the player, should choose which specific woodland creatures appear - but this only moves the responsibility onto the GM to determine the usefulness of the spell.
  • Not that the problems started with Summon Woodland Creatures. Conjure Animals is like a Disc-One Nuke that extends almost to the penultimate dungeon; you can use the spell to summon Giant Spiders for multiple target restraining, wolves or velociraptors for damage, apes for an artillery line, soforth. And thanks to the lower numbers of 5th Edition, by the time this spell loses some of its bite you have more than enough spell slots to abuse it.
  • The spell Healing Spirit, added in the Xanathar's Guide To Everything supplement, creates a spirit on a single square that heals anyone passing through that square for a variable number of HP every round. This doesn't sound that powerful, but an organized party can conga line back and forth through the spirit's square every round it's active, making it heal the entire party. And since movement can now be broken up into multiple segments, this means that a PC could step on the square, heal, and go right back to whatever it was that they were doing. Combine it with the cleric/bard multiclass trick to add a static level bonus to healing spells, then add Beacon of Hope to recover the maximum amount of HP possible from any healing spell, and this one square can recover more health than spells more than ten levels higher. The designers have argued that this is not actually a game breaker, since the worst that can be done by powerful out-of-combat healing is to ensure the party starts every encounter fresh, which does not necessarily affect the play of the game that much.

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