Munchkins are closely related (and sometimes indistinguishable from) rules lawyers and are often present in monty haul roleplaying games. The term describes players who are not interested in roleplaying and only care about having the most powerful character.

See also: Twink1,6, Power Gamer, keebler2 and It's a roleplaying game, dammit!

In the land of Oz as described in L. Frank Baum's books, the residents of the eastern quarter of the country, where everything is blue, just as everything is green in the Emerald City. The Wicked Witch of the East lived in the land of the Munchkins.

munching squares = M = mundane

munchkin /muhnch'kin/ n.

[from the squeaky-voiced little people in L. Frank Baum's "The Wizard of Oz"] A teenage-or-younger micro enthusiast hacking BASIC or something else equally constricted. A term of mild derision -- munchkins are annoying but some grow up to be hackers after passing through a larval stage. The term urchin is also used. See also wannabee, bitty box.

--The Jargon File version 4.3.1, ed. ESR, autonoded by rescdsk.

Kill The Monsters * Steal The Treasure * Stab Your Buddy

Munchkin is a very fun and wacky card game published by Steve Jackson Games in 2001. The game was designed by Steve Jackson and illustrated by John Kovalic, as with the other games in the Munchkin line of games. The game is a parody of Fantasy Role-Playing games, and especially of some of the people who play them (See the first writeup in this node). The game is absolutely rife with jokes that only gamers would understand, such as "Boil An Anthill" and "Mace of Sharpness."

In Munchkin, the goal of the game is to reach Level 10 before any other player. There are a variety of ways to do this, but the most common is simply to beat up monsters.

Some of the important cards in the game include:

  • Races: Elf, Dwarf, and Halfling. The expansion, Unnatural Axe, adds Orc to the list. If you don't have one of the Race cards, you're assumed to be Human. Humans don't have much in the way of special abilities, but they don't have many weaknesses, either. Each race has its own Strengths and Weaknesses, including having some monsters that are stronger or weaker against that race.
  • Classes: Warrior, Cleric, Thief, or Wizard. Like Races, there are advantages and disadvantages to each Class. Players are normally allowed to have only one Race and one Class at a time, unless you have...
  • Combo Cards: Half-Breed and Super Munchkin allow you to combine two Races or Classes, respectively, to have the strengths and weaknesses of both. In addition, Half-Breed allows you to use just one race, gaining all benefits of the race without suffering any of the drawbacks.
  • Gain A Level: There are a number of Treasure cards that let you gain a level, "just because." These include cards like, "Bribe GM With Food," "Invoke Obscure Rules," and "Promise The GM You'll Stop Telling Him About Your Character." Note that these can NOT be used to win the game.
  • Divine Intervention: This is the only card in the game that allows a player to win without beating a monster in combat. When it's drawn, all Clerics gain a level immediately. If they win because of it, they get to mock the other players mercilessly.

Here is a quick rundown of the Turn Sequence in Munchkin:

  • At any time during your turn except during combat, you can do any of the following: Play new Equipment from your hand, Ready equipment or change which equipment is being used (You are normally restricted to two hands' worth of equipment, one Big item, and no more than one of any type of armor), trade equipment with other players, attempt to Steal from other players (Only if you're a Thief), or Sell items (Each 1000 gold pieces' worth of items gets you a level).
  • Kick Open The Door: Turn over the top card of the Dungeon deck so that everyone can see it. If it's a Curse, it affects you immediately. If it's a Monster, fight it. If it's anything else, take it into your hand. If it was not a monster, you may choose to either Loot the Room or Look For Trouble.
    • Fighting Monsters: Add up your Level plus all bonuses gained by Equipped items. Compare that against the monster's Level.
    • Any player can interfere at pretty much any time during combat with any of a wide variety of cards, including Curses that they have in their hands.
    • You may Invite another player to join your combat, adding their combat totals to yours.
    • After a reasonable amount of time without any interference(We use a 3-count), combat ends. Total up both sides of the combat again. If your total is greater than the monster's, you win. If it's equal or lower, you lose.
    • If you won the combat, you have killed the monster! You gain one level (Or more, for a few monsters). If this takes you to level 10, you win. Otherwise, draw the number of Treasures stated on the monster's card. If you had help, these treasures must be drawn face-up, so that all players can see them.
    • If you lost the combat, you may try to Run Away. Roll a six-sided die. On a 5 or 6, you ran away. On any other result (or if you choose not to run away), do whatever the monster's card says under Bad Stuff.
  • Looting the Room: If you didn't have a monster, you can choose to Loot the Room. Draw the top card of the Dungeon deck and add it to your hand without showing it to anyone.
  • Looking For Trouble: Instead of Looting the Room, you can Look for Trouble. Take a Monster card from your hand and fight it, as above.
  • Charity: As the very, very last step in your turn, you have to reduce your hand size to 5 cards (6 if you're a dwarf). If you're the lowest-leveled player, or tied for the lowest level, you may simply discard any extras. Otherwise, you must give any excess cards to the player(s) with the lowest level, divided evenly (as much as possible) if it's to more than one player. Once you've done this, your turn is over, and play passes to the player to your left.

Munchkin, like Nekojin said, is hilarious, ridiculous fun. However it seems to have…exploded somewhat.

The original Munchkin was intended as a parody of D&D, which it does splendidly with so many jabs at the players and makers of the game that anyone with even a passing knowledge of a vague concept of what D&D could possibly be about would have a wonderful time laughing at/with this easy to learn game. But on top of that there are so many obscure references to old rules, monsters, and odd anecdotes from the community that the seasoned D&D veteran will still have as much, if not more, fun. And more is being added constantly. As of this writing Munchkin has 7 expansions (make that 81…or rather 102) each adding new content to the game.

But Wait, There’s More!

Since its original inception, the Munchkin card game has sprouted out to lampoon many other games and genres. These include:

  • Star Munchkin: A take on the Scifi genre. It even adds weapon cards that you can stack together to make even bigger and more powerful weapons that, due to the overall theme of Munchkin, can count as one item that your character can carry in a single hand.
  • Munchkin Fu: Which makes a mockery of martial arts movies.
  • Munchkin Bites: A quite clever parody of D&D’s major competitor, White Wolf’s World of Darkness populated with werewolves, vampires, and pretty much all the other creatures from popular horror fiction.
  • Super Munchkin: A lovely bashing of comic books and superheroes. This game introduced super powers, character origins and secret head quarters into the fold.
  • Munchkin Impossible: All about spys. And who doesn't love them?
  • Munchkin Cthulhu: This is the closest you’ll ever get people who’ve read every bit of H. P. Lovecraft’s stories to smile. This game added the Cthulhu Cultist character class, with the special rule that if all the players in the game become cultists then the game immediately ends and everyone wins/losses. This game actually has two expansions now to add to the seeping madness.
  • The Good, the Bad, and the Munchkin: This is Munchkin’s wild west variant. It and Munchkin Impossible are the only games that have yet to be given an expansion.
  • Munchkin Booty: Munchkins on the high seas.
  • Epic Munchkin: This is not a full game in its own right, but a set of rules and amendments if you want to play past the level 10 cap up to level 20. It’s free to download from the Munchkin website and contains rules for all of the Munchkin variants.

All of these different Munchkin variants can be played separately, or combined together. It’s fun to play as a telepathic vampire samurai, riding a dinosaur, wielding a vorpal blade in one hand and a lazer-dazer-phaser-bo-bazer in the other.

Munchkin also makes a nice drinking game. This is how I actually learned to play Munchkin while simultaneously emptying bottles of mead. Every time you go up or down a level you have to take a drink.

  • Drunkin Munchkin: Fun at parties, the only problem is remembering how to do basic adding and subtracting.

There is also a line of other Munchkin merchandise (e.g. bottled water, t-shirts, posters, bookmarks) all of which have their own rules that modify the game.



1 Munchkin 3.5: Clerical Errata is a set of misprinted cards that the community demanded. Steve Jackson Games announced that there would be a delay in Munchkin 3 coming out due to the printing mistakes, but everyone wanted the wrong cards anyway, so this set was made available along with rules that would make the incorrect cards…correct.
2 Munchkin Blender and Munchkin Dice are minor expansion sets that include cards to help combine the different sets and oversized ten-sided dice to go along with the games.
Sources: My own copies of the games and http://www.sjgames.com/munchkin/expansions.html.

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