Designer's Notes: The Munchkin's Guide to Power Gaming

The Guide To Munchkins: The Truth

by James ''Grim'' Desborough & Steve Mortimer

Art by Kent Burles

Scene: A darkened room. Two spotlights come on, each picking out a single figure seated on a wooden chair. The first is a hulking, cuddly, Sumo-wrestler type with a worrying fire in his eyes. The second is a long-haired, painfully thin, bearded, arty type. They look remarkably unworried. A voice starts asking questions from the darkness . . .

Designer's Notes: The Munchkin's Guide to Power Gaming

Why did you write the guide to munchkins?

Grim: It seemed like a good idea at the time.

Steve: It's our only contract and I'm a qualified expert on the subject.

Grim: It was a joke to start with, but Mr. Jackson seemed to like it. Who are we to argue if it means we get a break in the industry? Nothing quite like it has been done before except in a small way in roleplaying magazines. We thought it was time that roleplayers had some humor of their own.

Steve: It's just one of those things you do when you're drunk; collect traffic cones, tell everybody you love them, and write huge books!

What sort of decisions did you have to make when writing the book?

Steve: Did we actually make any decisions?

Grim: Yes. We did.

Steve: What?

Grim: How much to write each week, what to cut, what to keep, what was funny and whether to get up before midday.

Steve: Oh yeah, I remember those decisions.

Grim: We had to decide what we could legitimately satirize in a book with this specific title. Most of it concentrates on power-gamers, but we also have a dig at the big companies and a lot of other stuff as well.

Steve: And some of our friends.

Grim: And Goths.

Steve: But you are a Goth.

Grim: Gothish.

Steve: And Friends the TV show.

Grim: And pop music, the Spice Girls in particular. We'd have had a go at a lot more but the book would have been 600 sheets of microfilm and would have been called Grim and Steve Rant On For Several Weeks. We had to be strict about what we wrote, and stop it drifting.

Designer's Notes: The Munchkin's Guide to Power Gaming

Where did you get your source material?

Grim: Friends, players, the Internet, bad dreams . . .

Steve: Personal experience.

Grim: Yeah, Steve is a munchkin himself. I'm a poor put-upon GM, I have to put up with this kind of crap all the time. I wrote most of the detailed stuff about thwarting munchkins.

Steve: And I wrote all the stuff about screwing over your GM.

Grim: I want to make it absolutely clear that he said screwing over your GM.

Steve: We don't want you to think we're a minority or anything, then you won't buy the book.

Grim: I don't know, there's something rather butch about munchkins. Don't you find all that fascination with guns a bit suspect?

Steve (Indignant tone): No, not at all. There's naught wrong with a big gun.

Grim (Sigh): The rest of the material comes from our imaginations. We filled in the gaps with observations and ideas on the industry as a whole.

Steve: Just think of us as observers, documenting munchkins whenever possible. It's all to do with karmic balance. All the pretentious people are always complaining about how bad power-gaming is. We thought we'd restore the balance by telling the munchkins' side of the story.

Designer's Notes: The Munchkin's Guide to Power Gaming

Was there anything you missed out?

Grim: We had to cut our list of real life and fictional munchkins, but then it wasn't funny. No great loss there.

Steve: We had to cut back on some of the swearing and some of the more libelous comments. We don't want you to get the wrong idea, we're not the kind of people who swear just for the sake of it. We're nice boys really. (Evil grin.)

Grim: Uh, yeah. We didn't entirely cut the swearing, but our ''*'' key saw a lot of use. Well, munchkins are shallow enough to think swearing is funny in and of itself, so why not?

Steve: OK, so maybe we're not that nice. I suppose I do listen to Cradle Of Filth.

Grim: We tried not to censor ourselves or cut anything out. We wanted this to be a true representation of what roleplaying is. A hobby for dirty-minded adolescents who like guns and cars.

Steve: And chicks.

Grim: Liar. We didn't ignore women. We didn't really miss out anything. Pretty much everything we wanted to say that's relevant is in there.

Designer's Notes: The Munchkin's Guide to Power Gaming

Do you have any plans for any other books?

Steve: I don't know, it depends if anyone else takes us on.

Grim: Since we've insulted all the major games companies in the book I think we're f***ed. Damn, that means we'll have to get day jobs.

Steve: And lives, and normal sleep patterns.

Grim (Shudder): Seriously though, we'd like to work on something that isn't humorous. I'm afraid of getting pigeonholed as a ''comedy roleplayer,'' and Paranoia is the only game that was ever really funny. Oh, and Toon! of course, Mr. Jackson, sir.

Steve: And there's GURPS Goblins. And our editor worked on GURPS Discworld...

Grim: Okay, I'm sure that's enough creeping to the publisher.

Steve: On another serious note, we'd like to work on some of the really destructive games.

Grim: Or just see some of our other ideas in print. We'd like to convert a few science-fiction books into roleplaying games if we ever get the opportunity.

Do you have any suggestions on how to use the book?

Grim: Yeah, you can prop up wobbly tables with it. You could hit someone with it, I suppose.

Steve: Or you could build a little shrine, put it on its own pedestal and give it offerings of Marlboro and single malt whisky.

Grim: Really though, you'll find aspects of your characters and players in there. Its a good thing to read as a group. Just try not to wet yourselves.

Steve: Yeah, you could even use it for its intended purpose and turn your characters into utter munchkins.

Grim: Or alternatively you could use it to scupper anyone trying any power-gamer tricks in your game.

Steve: One technique we didn't include in the book was that if everything in there fails, you can beat your GM soundly round the head with it until he submits.

Grim: To tell the truth it has no actual intrinsic value as far as anyone's game is concerned, but its still a good laugh. Buy it, damn you.

Article publication date: January 28, 2000

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