Most of it falls into three categories: broken,
very broken, and holy God-Emperor what is that abomination.
— RPG.net combat optimiser Jon Chung, on the Scroll of the Monk for Exalted
Game Breakers in Tabletop RPGs. While any option or combination of traits not explicitly denied to the players will get tried, only a fraction of these builds see actual use due to GM oversight.
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Tabletop RPG in general:
- Tabletop RPGs in general can be broken by some strategies that exploit the human nature of the game. These differ from rules-based Game Breakers in that they generally cannot be prevented by GMs except by abandoning the game. For example, in many games the player group can bypass any problem by simply falling silent and waiting for the GM to prompt them through.
- Of course, this kind of exploit is also easily patched out, in the form of the same GM telling you to cut it out. Among other solutions if you push it too much. Or, for a GM with a lighter hand, just recommend Schmuck Bait. Or they just say "No." Arguably, though, since the game ends if the player continues to defy the rules, this is not actually a patch - just not playing the broken game.
- Any tabletop RPG that allows "point-buy" character design is vulnerable to Game-Breaker characters. The Variable Power Pool ability in HERO System is particularly infamous.
- Mutants & Masterminds has been nicknamed "Min-Maxers and Mary Sues" for a reason. 4chan's /tg/ is just full of M&M characters using the gamebreaking for fun. For instance, Ball of Arms Man 360 degrees of punch!
- In GURPS someone built an advantage named M.U.N.C.H.K.I.N. that allows you to disintegrate the entire universe for 53 points in a game where a "career adventurer" is expected to start at 200 points.note
"It's a cosmic attack, literally. Pulses of cosmic energy that radiate from the attacker (reaching 74 gigaparsecs in a flat second) burn out the neural system of living beings in the affected area, and remember that even the edge of our universe is "merely" about 10 gigaparsecs away from Earth. Also note that an Area Effect attack with Emanation involves no to-hit roll and simply affects anyone in the area. Furthermore, it allows victims only to dive for cover, and actually there's no effective cover since this Cosmic, Irresistible attack ignores DR. In conclusion, the user can attack every living thing in our entire universe, with 1 point of damage, 300 times per second. Have fun. 53 points."
- Champions, the Hero System Superheroes game, actually contained several examples of game-breaking characters in the rulebook to indicate they were possible. This included Planet Man (who can shrink planets, put them in his pocket, and throw them at people) and Azathoth (who sits in the center of the universe using powers to remote view anything and then shoot it)
- A player created breaker was Soul Surgeon, a character with the worst possible version of the Desolid power. His power turned him desolid, but left his body behind and vulnerable and gave him little power to affect anything while desolid. Oh, and he added the Usable On Others advantage. So any enemy he meets, he tears them out of their own body, then beats them unconscious while they're helpless.
- This is actually pointed out in the books themselves. Any power or advantage with a Stop Sign next to it, like Resurrection, Desolidification, or Transforming a foe into anything you want, require explicit permission from the GM to take due to their potential to derail the GM's story or plans.
- Oddly enough, the Damage Over Time is only labeled as a Caution Sign Power. It's entirely possible to create a power that does 1d6 damage 256 times (subtracting the target's defense only once) and still come in significantly under 60 points (out of 400). And since it only increases the power's active cost, not its base cost, further advantages are costed relative to the base power's 5 points, (and not the power's 1,280 points worth of damage) allowing you to add Personal Immunity, Area of Effect, and Megascale (the ability to cover, let's say, the entire planet) and still come in at 59 points. Have fun killing everything on Earth in under 10 minutes.
- In the Marvel Heroic Roleplaying based on Cortex Plus, successful attacks against an enemy can create a complication for them rather than dealing them Stress damage. If a complication is raised too high, the opponent is considered defeated. However, there are no rules limiting the nature of meaning of complications can be created, meaning that Spiderman can repeatedly spray web into Doctor Doom's eyes to blind him until he is complicated out, even if this would logically have very little effect on Doctor Doom (who is perfectly capable of detecting his surroundings without regular sight).
has nearly unlimited character options available to the players, and there are quite a few that can make other PC's feel a bit inadequate.
- In Deadlands Classic a scrapper (person with Steam Punk limbs) can generally mop the floor with anything.
- The system itself has an eccentricity built in with its rules, specifically the "Ace" system where if you roll the maximum number on a die you get to re-roll that die and add the new roll to the total. If you just so happen to have a four sided die set for that skill and have a high amount you are rolling you have a very high chance of aceing over and over again to get a ridiculously high number. Any marshal worth their salt knows to fear a knife thrower with 4d4 strength and 5 in Throwin' Balanced.
- Hell on Earth opened up the Junker arcane background, where you can build a rail gun from the get go, and enables PC's to be Robot Hunters, PC's with hulking power armor that has the armor value of a tank and the hitting power of one as well. Also, if you are a PC with the Arcane Background Doomsayer and the miracle Nuke or MIRV and they just blow things up from hundreds of yards away.
- It is possible to be the only PC with a car or plane, which can either make you feel like a chauffeur or the road warrior, depending on how the other PC are built.
- Marshals are advised to deal with these sort of things by occasionally nuking the equipment or abilities of the PC's by "silver bulleting" them away (RPG a car, anti aircraft robots for a plane, no power source for a power suit, etc).
, you can create an extremely lethal fire spell that makes any one target within 30 meters burst into flame and keep burning for 1 minute, dealing constant damage to everything within 1 meter radius (which means basically the victims entire body). It's a 3rd level spell, but it deals more damage than your standard 5th level spell (and in this game, that's a pretty big leap in difficulty to pull of). So what does it take to craft this spell? A decent score in fire/heat/chaos magic, an average score in the skill Transform Magic, and two different magical effects. And if you up the level of the spell by a tidbit and add a certain third effect, the fireball doesn't go out until the caster says so.
- On the other hand, it does have one weakness. Casting the spell requires five rolls on three different skills, and failing any of those rolls means the spell goes of in its unfinished state and the caster has to start over. Of course, this means that if the caster fails on any of the last two roll, the fireball will manifest directly in the palm of the caster. And when a fire with a 1 meter radius manifests with its center right in your hand, yeah you can guess the consequences.
Second Edition Exalted
: In a game where defense has primacy, Obsidian Shards of Infinity Form has two scene-length perfect defense charms, one of which allows you to perfectly redirect any attack aimed at you. It lets you make and control a perfect clone of your opponent who is linked to the clonee, and command it to kill itself, knocking the opponent out. A charm to make all of these cost zero essence. These charms are almost impossible to counter, and the chance of someone having IC knowledge of them is low.
- And then there's the combination of Grandmother Spider Mastery and anything that enhances perception. Grandmother Spider Mastery allows the Exalted to attack everything that he or she can see in a single action. There are charms that allow an Exalted to see everything in several hundred miles, or even everywhere in Creation. Pattern Spider Touch turns a single action attack into a move that either utterly destroys or transforms its target. The natural result of this has been nicknamed Creation-Slaying Oblivion Kick. It does, however, require Essence 7 and a cooperative Sidereal Martial Arts master, at which point killing everything everywhere isn't that far from the norm.
- Actually, this can be obtained much earlier using a combination of Mentor 5, Divine Transcendence of Martial Arts, and Glory to the Most High (Basically, you can have the Master Lupo or Aesha Ura as a mentor, and you count as having 2 more points of Essence than you actually have). Granted, this is an expensive build to make, but it's still a mass destruction charm combo obtained several hundred years before you should be able to use it. Of course, mentors are still fully-fledged Non Player Characters, not omnipotent Charm-dispensing vending machines, so whether they are willing to teach you the exact Charms required - or whether they necessarily even know all of them - is a matter of role-playing and the decisions of the Storyteller.
- The merit Brutal Attack allowed people to use Strength for attack rolls instead of Dexterity. This allowed tyrant lizard totem Lunars to show up as a T-Rex and roll 20+ dice for their attacks without spending a mote.
- Post-2.5, anything that says "that do not count as dice added by Charms" has a huge sticker reading BE CAREFUL WITH THIS on it. Also, anything intended for Essence 6+ was skipped entirely for the errata, since it was already a Herculean tasknote , meaning that post Essence 6 things are still horribly broken. Naturally, almost everything that involves the Sidereal Martial Arts is post-E6.
- Character creation can make or break you, due to the use of flat costs while most of the advancement table uses (previous level of trait x multiplier). Take two identical Dawn Castes. Have one buy his physical attributes at 5/5/1 and the other at 3/5/3. The first will spend 40xp to get to 5/5/5. The second will pay 56. That's three, maybe four sessions of play ahead, and for only one small part of chargen. Repeat that kind of thing in every section - get everything important to five, buy your Infernal eight Charms in a non-favoured Yozi for 16xp free, that kind of thing - and you can end up with one player hit very hard with Can't Catch Up.
is a terrible system, it has one spectacular Game-Breaker
. Your starting level, instead of being 1 like any sensible game, is the square root of the number of years you've been following your profession. Now, this means that a character who has spent 400 years at their job is maximum level from the get-go. Dwarves have their age rolled on 1d1000, and start work before 200. There's also damage XP, which is awarded per class that gets damage XP - so, if you have a few levels in three classes that gain damage XP, you can level up three times faster than someone playing a pure class. The only counterbalance? The assumed Killer Game Master
, and considering your GM is likely drinking heavily in an effort to forget some of the things in the rulebook
- In 1st edition FATAL, when you grappled an enemy, you were asked to roll for the "grapple position" you achieved. One of the options was.. ugh.. "rape". If that wasn't bad enough, this is a game which actually has stats for penis size and vaginal/anal circumference. If one will not fit inside the other, the target takes damage equal to the proportional difference as a proportion of their hit points. This means that playing a race with a large penis and going for grapples to "accidentally" rape enemies to death is much better than attacking normally. ...Or So I Heard.
- FATE is notorious for having problems with the wording of aspects. In particular, skills such as the ability to foresee the future can potentially declare aspects like "We Are Going To Win This Fight" which can then give a bonus to anything in it, or even argued to be automatically true in versions that maintain this rule. Given that it is a system which sparked lengthy forum threads over how to handle aspects like "Dark" and "On Fire", this is perhaps expected.
Due to the very nature
, it's relatively easy to land such combinations of advantages and skills, but
it charges so many points that your character may end up a Bunny-Ears Lawyer
to get there. Or never get there due to point limit. Having said that, there are few relatively cheap tricks allowing you to break the game without spending more than 30 points on them.
- Any skill that is at least 17 (or 16 with related Talent advantage) can only fail when the player rolls 18 during 3d6 checks, which has 2.8% chance of happening. Since skills are related with the level of specific statistic, and Easy skills don't get any penalty, it's ridiculously easy to make a character with 13 baseline skill (from stats) and then spend 12 points on the related skill to reach the 17.
- First level of better appearance, Attractive, costs 4 points. It helps with pretty much all social skills and adds default +1 to reaction checks. While higher levels of better appearance cost a lot more points with almost purely roleplaying value, Attractive has too good to skip point-to-usefulness ratio for the party's face.
- High TL, but only if the GM allows it and it suits the campaign. Most likely byproduct of being Ancient Astronaut, Time Travel or ending up Trapped in Another World, it allows a character to use a higher tech-level than the baseline of the setting, thus having access to much better versions of the same skills and knowledge. It only costs 5 points per level, so at 20 points you can use modern skills in The Renaissance, and at 30 - in Roman times. And obviously, High TL decreases or entirely removes penalties for jumping the technology curve, should the character have proper skills for that. Even such simple things like First Aid skill benefit greatly from High TL.
- To a lesser extent, just having access to higher TL tools makes a massive difference, especially in low TL games. Should character have proper skills and be from proper (or higher) TL, it's very easy to make TL4 (early-modern period) tools with access to TL2 (Iron Age) resources, providing an absurd +4 bonus to their users and negating the -10 penalty when trying to build or make other TL4 things. Giving Radio to the Romans is just a matter of finding a sponsor who will pay for initial investments.
- Gizmo. A 5 point advantage allowing a character to pull a small object from Hammerspace whenever needed, as long as it's within the possible gear the character could carry. The description provides an example of pulling dry matches from a pocket to light a fuse right after after diving or being thoroughly searched and yet pulling a hidden gun when put in front of the Big Bad. Oh, and Gizmo has levels, so it's 5 points per item that can be pulled whenever characters need one. The most common use is about having always a lockpick on character when the plot demands it.
- Talent advantages, especially when custom-made. Most GMs simply don't allow making custom Talents due to their absurd potency, or ban any other than Minor version. Depending on tier, Talent adds +1 to up to 6, 12 or 18 skills covered by said talent, for the price of 5, 10 or 15 points. In all versions Talent also provides reaction bonuses to other users of covered skills, so it's very easy to impress NPCs while simply performing routine tasks.
- High Manual Dexterity. For 5 points, it adds +1 to all skills related with delicate handiwork. And it has levels, so for 20 points you can gain +4 bonus to 11 different skills and Dexterity-based checks of another 20, making a character an instant expert and great performer even with minimal training in those skills or none at all. As you might notice, it's twice as effective as described above Talent and yet it's almost never banned.
- Similarly, Ambidexterity. For 5 points, you can perform any manual skill equally well with either hand. Think about how many things you do with your dominant hand. Now imagine being able to do them all equally well with the other. (If you don't have to imagine, congratulations: you're part of perhaps 1% of the population.) Interestingly, the GURPS devs themselves don't seem to see this, and have even discussed making it a 1 point Perk.
- Magery. Spells are casted by rolling an IQ check. It costs 20 points to rise IQ by 1. Magery counts as +1 to IQ checks when casting spells, while it costs 10 points per level. Yeah. And while IQ is by far the most useful stat to have high, Magery allows to ease up Early Game Hell in low-point games and helps to avoid ending up with Squishy Wizard.
- Combat Reflexes are intentionally broken this way, as a thing every "professional" fighter should have. For measly 15 points, it adds +1 and +2 to variety of fast reaction skills, makes character immune to freezing in combat and also counts as a massive +6 bonus to Instant Waking Skills. More, entire party gains +1 to defense against surprise attacks and +2 if the character is a designated party leader.
Legend of the Five Rings
The first edition of the Legend of the Five Rings
RPG had quite a few gamebreakers. One of the most infamous was a joint grip maneuver from the "Mizu-do" unarmed combat style. A successful roll could disarm and incapacitate the target. Doesn't sound too bad, except that the target's abilities had almost no effect on the easy-to-perform maneuver. As a result, a starting character with fairly normal stats (Agility 3, Mizu-do 3) would have about a 50% chance of disarming some of the greatest swordsmen in the Emerald Empire.
- You also get some of the crazies stuff with the Kakita Artisans, who were both underrated and overpowering./tg/ archiveSFW writeup.
Acting Rank 3: "At this rank, the dramatist has gained the ability to physically alter their entire body, so that the dramatist can assume the form of animals. The forms which the actor chooses to become may not exceed the mass of a heavy war horse, and no items (including clothes or weapons) change with the Artisan."
- 4th Edition has the Asako Henshin, who are simultaneously dreadful in both directions. At first rank, they get an ability that lets them raise or lower anybody's traits of a certain ring, and it lasts for a very long time even early on. So with a simple action, an Asako Henshin can render trained courtiers into gibbering idiots, out-wrestle a Crab, or out-stealth a ninja. However, the rest of the class is excellent in the "unplayable" way, with rank 2-5 abilities being mutually exclusive, being conditional at best, and the class lacks the staple 'can make attacks as a simple action instead of a complex action' feature at higher levels, instead getting a watered-down version at rank 5.
fans long ago compiled the MTS Abuse Catalog
listing these. Here are some of the highlights:
- Probably the most infamous in Mekton Zeta is Weight Efficiency. Using large amounts of weight efficiency, the design drops its all-important Manuver Value, raises its ground movement, and decreases the cost of flight movement, all at the same time. Also, the points spent on weight efficiency are not subject to cost multipliers. Additionally, nowhere in the rules is said that you can't weight efficiency your mecha down to zero tons. Since the cost of propulsion systems are a multiple of the mecha's weight, this would allow infinite MA for a cost of zero points.
- Poor Man's Reactive Shield: Coupling an Attack Factor of 2 with a -2 WA Beam Shield results in Reactive Shield like protection for 1.8cp/K instead of 3cp/K normally required by reactive shields. This gets even better if the design has room for 2 shields, which can then alternate between uses and add the Turns In Use and Rechargeable modifiers for even more savings. A 20K, 1 TIU, Rechargeable, -2 WA, AF 4 beam shield costs only 17.82 cp. Buying two of them only costs 35.64 cp. This is even cheaper than a 15K reactive shield! It is effective against all types of attack, has 5 more SP, is basically unlimited, and by default has a Reset of 1.
- Smart Missiles: Use of Smart missiles with 20+ skill almost guarantees a hit, and even makes Anti-Missile Systems largely ineffective.
- Suuuuurrrrrrgggggeeee!!!!: Ablative Reactive Shields grant Kills x 5 SP. Surge shields do SP kills in damage. Combine the two for five times the pain. As an added plus, take Reset: X and any other modifiers you feel like (this thing isn't supposed to absorb damage anyway) (ie. 15K, Reset: X, Matter Only, Surge for 21.1cp).
- Large amounts of Ninja Leaping. Since ninja leap is achieveable once per action, a +10 ninja leap results in an effective MA of +20 (or more, if using Let's Active) (ex. Ground MA of 7, normal leap = 2 hexes. +10 ninja leap. move 4 hexes for free [walking 1/2 MA is free], spend 2 actions for +24 MA. Total MA = 28)
- Transformation: Gun scales up one of the mecha's weapons. Equip a big enough gun, and your mecha can transform into a BFG that would turn Megatron green with envy.
- Out-of-Scale Energy Melee Weapons. Buy a low kill 10x scale EMW. The EMW's "hot knife through butter" effect scales to ignore 40K of armor instead of 4K.
- Similarly, Out-of-Scale Missiles: Buy a low kill 10x scale blast radius missile. The missile's blast radius damage scales to 10x, instead of a maximum of 5K for 1x scale missiles. This allows indirect fire to negate Anti-Missile Systems.
, reality is written in a language of flowers. "Flowers" is technically an available Estate. This would create nigh-omnipotence even by the standards of a game where shooting down the sun is considered a fun afternoon.
Racial Holy War
Racial Holy War
(it's as stupid as FATAL
) is an unfinished mess anyway, but even if fearsome amounts of alcohol and inbreeding have convinced you to actually jury-rig the rules into a playable state, you'll still be left with the hideously broken Athlete player class. See, Athletes get an additional 10 hitpoints per level
, since the ability of an experienced athlete to ignore a chainsaw to the head or anti-tank weapon is well known.
- Even worse is the Hero class which gives a substantial boost to the Heroism stat and makes all Rouse checks automatically succeed. Because the Morale Mechanic works by adding the whole group's Heroism together for defense and Intimidation for attack and Rouse checks add a set amount to both stats for EACH character based on the Hero's ranks in Rouse, this means that it's nigh-impossible for the party to be intimidated by opponents and will almost always make enemies run in panic. And fleeing opponents can't fight back. And give the party free turns to shoot at them. Worst of all, since multiple Heroes' Rouse checks can stack with each other this means this trick can be pulled at character creation.
seems to hate the gamemaster with a passion. The "status" power increases a player character's starting money from 1,000 Stars to 1,000,000, in a game with a comically challenging artificing system. Proper munchkinisation can result in a player character starting with an armour value of 100, and being armed with a weapon which has a +10 attack bonus, causes an automatic 300 points of damage that will not heal short of 8th Order Magic while healing you for every point it deals, and forces any human you hit with it to make a power save or instantly die. SenZar is probably the only game where a starting character can be armed with a weapon able to kill a normal player character 20 or 30 times over.
- Hacking had a surprising tendency to be broken in Shadowrun 4th edition. Due to the relatively low limit on the maximum System score, any computer which wasn't protected by a spider could be relatively easily hacked even by a starting character. This was made worse by 4th Edition's introduction of "Commlinks", basically superpowered smartphones, which meant that almost any of an individual's data could simply be hacked off their relatively-insecure commlink (rather that having to find it in the wider scope of cyberspace)
- The notoriously weak Sixth World version of Shadowrun made this even worse by removing the System/Device score as a default value for Matrix stats. A character with any investment in hacking skill at all can instantly and utterly destroy any character without it, many of whom will have zero in their defense stats.
- Sixth World was also infamous for its bizarre treatment of armor. Instead of reducing damage taken, armor in Sixth World grants you Defense Rating, which gives you bonus Edge points if you are attacked by weaker weapons. While the intent is to put you in an advantageous position in battle, the result tends to be that you get some Edge points and then die. It also creates insane interactions such as the ability of a PC with a cyberjaw to eat a drydocked submarine in a few rounds (its armor doesn't protect it against even the low "cybernetic bite" damage, and if the submarine is docked, there's no character involved to gain the Edge)
- The most infamous game breaker in Sixth World is using the Anticipation action with a full-auto weapon. A full-auto weapon lets you fire at as many targets as you like within ammo limits, but you have to split your dice pool between each of the targets you attack. Anticipation means you no longer need to split your dice pool when attacking multiple targets. Using this with a weapon with a large magazine can allow you to shoot 50+ targets with your full skill in a single round.
Star Wars d20
Stun in Star Wars d20
Revised is somewhere between That One Rule
and a Game-Breaker
. If you hit with a stun attack, your enemy must save or be helpless, losing all dexterity, granting a +2 to hit to all attackers, and drops what they are holding for a few turns of combat. If they do save, it happens anyway for one round. Again, this is for every hit, so a party can simply tie up a single, powerful enemy, regardless of size (think rancor) and whittle it down at virtually no risk to themselves. Even if the enemy breaks the loop because all the party members using stun weapons miss (unlikely), they have to take move actions to get their weapons back into their hands, allowing maybe an attack or two before the Cycle of Hurting
continues. Do not do this to your players, even as a joke.
- Another big gamebreaker was one ability of the Elite Trooper Prestige Class, called 'Deadly Strike'. To qualify for the class at the earliest opportunity, one had to be a sixth level Soldier, then gain nine levels in the Prestige Class. Hard to get? Possibly. The benefit for your patience and hard work? The character in question makes a full-round action to perform a single attack, that deals maximum possible damage regardless of a critical hit. This attack has a doubled critical threat range, and gains a plus four to hit. This is coupled with the character's already high plus fifteen to hit from base attack, plus whatever dex bonus they may have, plus any other bonuses, feats, or special abilities to boot! What does this all add up to? On a crit, even with a measly blaster pistol, anyone getting hit dies, and the odds are that the average to-hit bonus is going to be twenty-five before rolling the d20. Couple this with a blaster cannon, the resident energy BFG, and a few good critical hits, and this character has a decent chance of taking out anything less than a frigate in orbit, by himself, from the ground, in roughly two minutes. Any starfighter will be dust in roughly three to five rounds, long before the pilot can even see the tiny speck down on the ground blasting at it. A round being six seconds long, that amounts to eighteen to thirty seconds, per ship.
- Or not, as the character must be able to spot the ship, and in the d20 rules, your checks for your sensory skills suffer a -1 penalty per 10' of distance to the object. Rules as written, the characters shouldn't be able to see a moon - er, space station - orbiting the planet they are standing on.
Star Wars (Fantasy Flight)
- The Auto-fire rule, which allows advantages rolled on dice to be spent to have a weapon hit multiple times, is notoriously broken due to the damage multiplication it allows. Even powerful enemies can be mown down in a hail of bullets in a single round.
- There are a range of Knowledge skills available, all of which use Intellect as their base stat. However, there is no trained/untrained skill system in FFG Star Wars; a character who doesn't have a specific skill can still roll their entire base stat. This means that a character with a high base intellect knows everything, as if he/she had dice in every possible knowledge skill, even ones they've never heard of.
The ridiculous design of World of Synnibarr
makes it fairly reasonable for a party of five people with a decent starting sum and stats rolls to have every PC have 50,000 Life Points
, shotguns loaded with Lubricated Pelleum Steel
slugs, and be able to attack three times per segment, twice.
- A half-pound sling ball of Pelleum can be purchased for nearly 1/200th of the price. After spending the starting funds, the players can have a 100-foot armor-plated pirate ship that could shrug off nuclear bombardment with armor-piercing chainguns and rocket launchers to fire back.
- One of the sample low-level monsters is a bat. The number of XP awarded for a bat - which does not scale with character level - and the "number that appear in a group" indicate that simply blowing up a nesting group of bats with a grenade will give a character enough XP to reach the level where they become a god.
The designers of the superhero RPG Wild Talents
freely admit that their (fairly generic) powers-creation system can be easily abused if players are so inclined. The 2nd Edition rulebook even comes with a free example describing how to build a power that will allow the character who has it to extinguish the sun...