Munchkin (role-playing games)

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In gaming, a munchkin is a player who plays what is intended to be a non-competitive game (usually a role-playing game) in an aggressively competitive manner. A munchkin seeks within the context of the game to amass the greatest power, score the most "kills", and grab the most loot, no matter how detrimental their actions are to role-playing, the storyline, fairness, teamwork, or the other players' enjoyment. The term is used almost exclusively as a pejorative and frequently is used in reference to powergamers.


The term has been used to describe a style of gaming since 1989[1] and received examination in the 90s.[2][3][4]

The term was applied originally to young gamers by older players,[5] presumably because the connotation of being short and ridiculous (like the Munchkins in the book and film The Wizard of Oz) made it an apt label for the childish gamers it was applied to. However, before long it came to refer to anyone who engaged in a juvenile gaming style no matter their height, age or experience.

Less pejorative use[edit]

A more neutral use of the term is in reference to novice players, who, not knowing yet how to roleplay, typically obsess about the statistical "power" of their characters rather than developing their characters' personalities.


In gaming certain rule(s) exist to combat a Munchkin ruining the experience for other gamers. Specifically the rule(s) should be made clear to beginners so that the pitfalls associated with listening to a Munchkin's antics can be avoided.

Related terms[edit]

Munchkins are often accused of twinking or roll-playing, a pun on "role" that notes how munchkins are often more concerned with the numbers and die rolls than with the roles that they play.

A game master who constantly awards players large amounts of treasure or powerful magic items without proper backstory or justification can also be called a munchkin master. Such campaigns are sometimes called 'Monty Haul' campaigns, after Monty Hall, the host of Let's Make a Deal. In these games the players are considered munchkins for having gained powerful characters without having earned these advancements or having proven their mastery of the game.


In France, the munchkin is known as a Gros Bill (Fat Bill or Big Bill), from the nickname of a Parisian player who played with roleplaying game author François Marcela-Froideval. Marcela-Froideval later wrote an article about this type of player with colleagues Didier Guiserix and Daniel Duverneuil in the leading French roleplaying game magazine Casus Belli, causing the widespread use of that nickname among French powerplayers.[6]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Hwang Tsong-Wen (5 October 1989). "Bandwidth Wasters Hall of Fame for". Doesn't anybody recognize humor anymore, or have our faces gone completely stiff from thinking about good vs. evil or character balance or munchkin-zapping? 
  2. ^ Magnus (22 February 1993). "What is Munchkinism? What does the Wizard of Oz have to do with roleplaying games?". Munchkinism is similar to "Monty Haul" gaming; however it involves playing at incredible power levels purely for the sake of watching the terrain get blown away by player characters who are unstoppable. Munchkinism also involves "rules rape," wherein players milk every advantage out of the rules. Often a munchkin will carry a favorite character from game to game, usually with the maximum allowable ability scores, skill ratings, etc - and enough hardware/magic to destroy the planet four times over. 
  3. ^ Phil Masters, Elizabeth McCoy (14 June 1995). "What does the term 'munchkin' refer to?". younger gamers of a power-oriented mindset .. an immature power-gamer who has +10 Swords of Slay Anything for wallpaper. It derives from those Oz denizines, Munchkins, to young gamers who often go in for hack'n'slash Monty Hauls, to anyone who seems more concerned with Winning (usually by killing anything that stands in his path) than with playing a game with other people. 
  4. ^ Bill Wilson via Wildwood (31 January 1997). "For those who are new... The Munchkin File!". You ARE a munchkin if .. you roll 4d6 and keep *all four* 
  5. ^ Gribble, Nathan (1994). "The Munchkin Examined". Interactive Fantasy (2). 
  6. ^ Marcela-Froideval, François; Guiserix, Didier; Duverneuil, Daniel (1981). "Devine qui vient dîner ce soir". Casus Belli (4).