'New' Fallacy: The Munchkin Fallacy

29 posts / 0 new
Last post
This is a formalization of an argument I've made before, and I feel it's time to make it formal so it'll be easier to reference in the future.
My apologies if this is redundant(my search-fu isn't so strong, but I didn't find any threads that have already made this official).


The Munchkin Fallacy,

A common 4e Character Optimization mistake.
It shows up a lot. Many of us have seen it, many of us have committed it from time to time.

The Munchkin Fallacy: "I can because the rules don't say I can't."
This is the simplest form, but it shows up in more subtle forms.
More accurately,you commit the Munchkin Fallacy when you interpret a rule based on something that is not said(or the fact that it is not said), and claiming it to be RAW.

The Proof and Analysis

First, the evidence:
PHB, pg. 11 wrote:
Three Basic Rules
In addition to the core mechanic, three principles are at the heart of the DUNGEONS & DRAGONS game. Many other rules are based on these assumptions.
Simple Rules, Many Exceptions
Every class, race, feat, power, and monster in the D&D game lets you break the rules in some way. These can be very minor ways: Most characters don’t know how to use longbows, but every elf does. These exceptions can also appear in very significant ways: A swing with a sword normally does a few points of damage, but a high-level fighter can use a power that can fell multiple monsters in a single blow. All these game elements are little ways of breaking the rules—and most of the books published for the D&D game are full of these game elements.
Specific Beats General
If a specific rule contradicts a general rule, the specific rule wins. For example, a general rule states that you can’t use a daily power when you charge. But if you have a daily power that says you can use it when you
charge, the power’s specific rule wins. It doesn’t mean that you can use any daily power when you charge, just that one.

Second, the logic:
1. Assume that the purpose of the game system is to simulate combat and critical situations in a fictional setting, such that the players can direct their characters to take actions that are outside the experience and abilities of the players themselves, but within the experience and abilities of the fictional characters they control. For aspects of life that the rules do not attempt to cover, assume that it functions in the same way as the normal world(ie, the rules don't have to tell you that what goes up must come down, nor that your character needs to use the latrine sometime).

2. Given this assumption, the first fundamental principle makes it clear that powers 'beyond the norm'--including the ability to swing a sword accurately--must be given by a rule. Player characters are empowered by the rules that let them take a PC Class, and the powers that those classes give them. If there were no such rules, no PC would be any more skilled than the commoners we strive to save.
In other words, if there isn't a rule that says you can do something 'beyond the norm,' you can't without DM discretion(thus leaving RAW territory).
The example given in the above-quoted text makes this clear("most characters don't know how to use longbows, but every elf does" and "A swing with a sword normally does a few points of damage, but a high-level fighter can use a power...[etc.]"

3. Adding in "Specific Beats General" places these 'exceptions' in a hierarchy, formalizing the assumption of "Simple Rules, Many Exceptions" that if there is a rule that provides exception to another, the exception takes precedence. Rules conflicts occur in three basic cases: 1)The wording provided does not cover a given instance, 2)The wording of the specific or general rule is vague or confusing, 3)It is unclear in exactly what way the specific rule alters the general one(or this alteration contradicts the RAI or common sense).

4. We are supposed to follow the two primary principles in an effort to reconcile such conflicts when they occur.


Variations on this fallacy include:
1. Using parallels to assume a rule. For example, the statement "both the Warlock's infernal pact and star pact have inherent limitations on how their boons stack, therefore Fey Pact must as well" commits a variation of the Munchkin Fallacy, by assuming that because a parallel portion of text works a particular way, the other portion must work the same way. This doesn't mean the speaker is wrong, it just means that his statement is insufficient to judge the RAW(though it may be helpful in determining RAI).
2. Reading between the lines.
3. Being unsatisfied with the phrasing of the rule. This is a result of committing both a Munchkin Fallacy and a Straw Man fallacy. For example, regarding Warlock Pact at-wills, a person might say "the general rules uses the word "choose." Because the Eldritch Pact text does not also use the word "choose," clearly the at-will given by Eldritch Pact is not one of the two at-wills given by the general rules." The straw man is setting up the word "choose" and refusing to accept alternative wording. The Munchkin Fallacy consists of assuming that because the Pact wording does not specify it's the same at-will power, it means a different at-will power in addition to the ones you get normally...a leap of logic not necessarily justified(*note, there may be other rules that make the speaker's case, but the one given is insufficient).

In practice, the analysis given earlier has lead me to a very important conclusion:
--When attempting to determine the RAW when rules conflict arises, give priority to the interpretation that follows both the Specific and the General rules.
For Example
The Wizard spellbook class feature uses phraseology that leaves open the possibility of casting multiple spells of the same level in a given day. This may be justified by saying that the spellbook rule is an exception to the general rule characters gain one Daily Slot at particular levels, which Slot is filled by the power you choose according to your class description. Saying that "because every other class can only use one Daily Power of a particular level in a day, the wizard must also" would actually be committing the Munchkin Fallacy, as earlier described!
*However*
The general rule, which states that you gain a Daily Slot of a particular level at given points in your character's development, is not actually contradicted by the spellbook rule! There is no language in the Wizard description that states that the general rule no longer applies, so we must first give priority to any reading that would allow us to follow both the general rule of character development and the specific rule of how spellbooks function. On examination of the wording, we find that we can follow both the specific and general rule by interpreting them thusly:
A wizard gets daily powers at every level, just as every other character does. However, because he has a spellbook he is allowed to inscribe two such powers into the book. Every day, he may choose one or the other of those two powers to put in the appropriate level daily slot.
Every other interpretation either breaks the specific rule, or breaks the general rule. Only one interpretation(which, fortunately, appears to be RAI as well) actually allows us to follow both the General and Specific.
If it were not possible to reconcile the two, the specific rule would of course trump and wizards really would be able to memorize any spell in any level daily slot.

The above example demonstrates well the point: while Specific beats General, the Specific doesn't necessarily invalidate the general.

This leads to the final variation of the Munchkin Fallacy, and the one I think may be most important:
4. If a rules interpretation unnecessarily ignores either the specific or the general rule, it is committing the Munchkin Fallacy.

In short, try to follow as many rules as possible, working from specific back to general. If following the specific rule means there is no way to follow the general rule, then the specific trumps. However, if it is possible to follow both, do so. To do otherwise is to commit the Munchkin Fallacy.

Disclaimer:

The Munchkin Fallacy applies only in the discussions of "RAW"(Rules As Written) that come up in 4e Char-Op work:
-Many of the listed examples of the Munchkin Fallacy are still valid for judging RAI(Rules As Intended).
-The 3.5e books do not contain the language given as my basis for this Fallacy, and as such the Munchkin Fallacy is unofficial and only really exists as a function or practical concerns(in which case the Ten Commandments of Practical Optimization are a better guide anyway).
-In Theoretical Optimization, committing the Munchkin Fallacy is actually encouraged, as TO has an entirely different goal.
-In matters of Practical Optimization, the RAW is often irrelevant. Committing the Munchkin Fallacy is never a good reason for an argument to be dismissed: sometimes the interpretation given is just good ol' common sense(as in the debate over the vagueness of Warlock at-wills: no one believes giving Warlocks 4 at-wills is practical or even usable, but it may well be RAW)
-Finally, as with all fallacies, just because an argument commits the Munchkin Fallacy doesn't mean it's WRONG, it just means that the given argument is flawed and needs better support to fly.
The Munchkin Fallacy: "I can because the rules don't say I can't."
More accurately,the Munchkin Fallacy is the interpretation of a rule based largely on something that is not said, and claiming it to be RAW.

I don't get it. These two appear to be opposites of each other. Is it making up rules in the absence of rules ("based on something that is not said")? Or is it not following what you see as RAI when there aren't rules ("the rules don't say I can't")?

It's clear that you put some thought into this, but I don't see the clear message that you must be intending. You seem to jump all over the place -- for example by the end of the topic you seem to be implying that Specific doesn't trump General.

And at the most basic level, I think I disagree with what you're asserting. Because imo if it's not stated, then it's not a rule. Just follow RAW -- don't try and second-guess.
I don't get it. These two appear to be opposites of each other. Is it making up rules in the absence of rules ("based on something that is not said")? Or is it not following what you see as RAI when there aren't rules ("the rules don't say I can't")?

It's clear that you put some thought into this, but I don't see the clear message that you must be intending. You seem to jump all over the place -- for example by the end of the topic you seem to be implying that Specific doesn't trump General.

And at the most basic level, I think I disagree with what you're asserting. Because imo if it's not stated, then it's not a rule. Just follow RAW -- don't try and second-guess.

Edited for clarity, and replaced the text toward the end(which I assume caused some of the confusion) with:
In short, try to follow as many rules as possible, working from specific back to general. If following the specific rule means there is no way to follow the general rule, then the specific trumps. However, if it is possible to follow both, do so. To do otherwise is to commit the Munchkin Fallacy.

Responding to your post:
You are correct that if it's not stated, it's not a rule. That is actually the point of this thread and fallacy. Many many times I find myself running across people who either:
1) Openly claim that they can do something because the rules don't disallow it.
2) Unknowingly do the same thing, by committing one of the variations of the Fallacy that I listed.

In such cases I have frequently found myself repeating the same argument against it, and unable to find the threads in which I did so before. As a result, I decided to type it up in its own thread and make it something I can easily reference.

As for jumping all around, yeah, that happens when I'm typing straight without outlining. I'll try to make it more organized as we go along. I'll probably move the last variation of the fallacy up to the top with the others, for example.

[edit]More adjustments made in the interests of organization.
Pretty interesting. I don't have much to add to it, except that Munchkins and Rules Lawyers annoy the hells out of me.
Where is your Wiki page? One can not make a new fallacy w/o a wiki page. It's the law.
Pretty interesting. I don't have much to add to it, except that Munchkins and Rules Lawyers annoy the hells out of me.

How do you define "annoys"? There is nothing in the rules that defines it. It's not a condition, though it sounds like it could be one. I don't believe that Rules Lawyers or Munchins "annoy" you w/o you citing proof that "annoy" exists within the RAW.
How do you define "annoys"? There is nothing in the rules that defines it. It's not a condition, though it sounds like it could be one. I don't believe that Rules Lawyers or Munchins "annoy" you w/o you citing proof that "annoy" exists within the RAW.





Very, very well earned.
Rule 2 of the Holy Commandments.

OoP's characters
My current character in Real Adventures Play-by-Post games:

 

  • Maeve in The Lost History of Istar


 
Rule 2 of the Holy Commandments.

Indeed, though now Rule 2 is no longer merely practical optimization, it is also RAW(hence this thread).
So when people cite RAW I really don't think they are doing so to munchkin it up most of the time. I think finding loopholes in RAW is important because it shows us and Wizards where the text needs to be clarified. Most people I see citing ridiculous RAW openly denounce using these terrible wordings to break the game.

In an ideal world RAW matches the interpretation. In the real world this is often not the case.
Here is an example you can add. Teleportation up. It isnt encouraged in actual play however its not totaly impractical. In TO it allows powers to deal absurd amounts of damage with teleportations.
So when people cite RAW I really don't think they are doing so to munchkin it up most of the time. I think finding loopholes in RAW is important because it shows us and Wizards where the text needs to be clarified. Most people I see citing ridiculous RAW openly denounce using these terrible wordings to break the game.

In an ideal world RAW matches the interpretation. In the real world this is often not the case.

I agree that there is a need to be examining the RAW and looking carefully at the loopholes(one reason I'm not actually upset about the "4 warlock at-wills" thing, just critical). In fact, the point of this thread is to point out a logical fallacy often used by those trying to find a loophole. It's important to know WHICH loopholes that get pointed out really are loopholes. Arguments that commit the Munchkin Fallacy, for example, don't do the job, and that's the point.

Here is an example you can add. Teleportation up. It isnt encouraged in actual play however its not totaly impractical. In TO it allows powers to deal absurd amounts of damage with teleportations.

I like that, but I'd have to look around a bit to see how I'd reference it. Vertical movement is understandably a no-man's-land right now...
The Munchkin Fallacy gets my

IMAGE(http://www.realtown.com/img/articles/_RealTown_Seal_of_Approval.JPG)
I like that, but I'd have to look around a bit to see how I'd reference it. Vertical movement is understandably a no-man's-land right now...

Right right but I use the MF (HAH get it) to support my point (As well as the fact that otherwise a dragon 2 squares off the ground would automaticaly TPK a party if you cant aim powers up (hence creating a burst up, hence being able to teleport there) Its slightly more RAW supported but the rules dont say you cant so you can was my primary argument.

But I will agree I wouldnt touch the skys with a 39 and a half foot poll.
Right right but I use the MF (HAH get it) to support my point (As well as the fact that otherwise a dragon 2 squares off the ground would automaticaly TPK a party if you cant aim powers up (hence creating a burst up, hence being able to teleport there) Its slightly more RAW supported but the rules dont say you cant so you can was my primary argument.

Ah, I see what you mean. Yes, by RAW any airborne creature could hose a groundbound party. To say otherwise is to commit the munchkin fallacy, unless you can find sufficient rules to say that you CAN(obviously it's a problem that you can't). However, this is where the Munchkin Fallacy parts ways with the Ten Commandments of Practical Optimization: it doesn't make sense not to be able to shoot upwards, so practical op would allow it, where the RAW would not(so in that case, committing the fallacy gets the job done).
So it's important to recognize the limits of the fallacy.


But I will agree I wouldnt touch the skys with a 39 and a half foot poll.

Sucker for puns and clever turns of phrase that I am, that made me LOL.
The Munchkin Fallacy: "I can because the rules don't say I can't."

And this is the point where I say that the rules also dont say you can, therefore leaving the decision in my court.
Would an airborne creature even be able to aim powers down at the party ? I would think that the problem would go both ways.
Reach does clearly extend in all direction the debate is things that have burst effects.

(see the DMG)

So the dragon reachs down and claws the party or does fly by and auto tpks them.
In short, try to follow as many rules as possible, working from specific back to general. If following the specific rule means there is no way to follow the general rule, then the specific trumps. However, if it is possible to follow both, do so. To do otherwise is to commit the Munchkin Fallacy.

Very, very nicely put. There have been many arguments employing extremely literal readings of the text lack so much common sense that they seem to border on autism

Now this really pisses me off to no end!

:coolcthul
Right right but I use the MF (HAH get it) to support my point (As well as the fact that otherwise a dragon 2 squares off the ground would automaticaly TPK a party if you cant aim powers up (hence creating a burst up, hence being able to teleport there) Its slightly more RAW supported but the rules dont say you cant so you can was my primary argument.

But I will agree I wouldnt touch the skys with a 39 and a half foot poll.

Correct me if I'm wrong, but wouldn't a single target attack be able to get him, even if powers can't act in three dimensions?

Or if powers can only target someone on the same elevation as you, the dragon wouldn't even be able to breath or melee down at the party?

And Orc archers with higher ground would make for some comical shouting matches if you were unable to target someone at a different elevation.

Old thread, but I thought I'd ask for everyone to afraid to do so... Can you please post an acronym definition in your thread. RAW and RAI? Returning to gaming after a near 15 year hiatus and need clarification.

There's actually a perfect thread for simple questions like this! It's stickied for easy reference.

To answer your question, RAW is Rules As Written, and RAI is Rules As Intended. In CharOp we are solely concerned with the former, as the latter is nice in concept but useless for practical gameplay or theoretical optimization.
There's actually a perfect thread for simple questions like this! It's stickied for easy reference.

To answer your question, RAW is Rules As Written, and RAI is Rules As Intended. In CharOp we are solely concerned with the former, as the latter is nice in concept but useless for practical gameplay or theoretical optimization.

RAI is probably used more for practical gameplay.

I don't know any DM who would let killer in a crowd work the way it's written.

guides
List of no-action attacks.
Dynamic vs Static Bonuses
Phalanx tactics and builds
Crivens! A Pictsies Guide Good
Power
s to intentionally miss with
Mr. Cellophane: How to be unnoticed
Way's to fire around corners
Crits: what their really worth
Retroactive bonus vs Static bonus.
Runepriest handbook & discussion thread
Holy Symbols to hang around your neck
Ways to Gain or Downgrade Actions
List of bonuses to saving throws
The Ghost with the Most (revenant handbook)
my builds
F-111 Interdictor Long (200+ squares) distance ally teleporter. With some warlord stuff. Broken in a plot way, not a power way.

Thought Switch Higher level build that grants upto 14 attacks on turn 1. If your allies play along, it's broken.

Elven Critters Crit op with crit generation. 5 of these will end anything. Broken.

King Fisher Optimized net user.  Moderate.

Boominator Fun catch-22 booming blade build with either strong or completely broken damage depending on your reading.

Very Distracting Warlock Lot's of dazing and major penalties to hit. Overpowered.

Pocket Protector Pixie Stealth Knight. Maximizing the defender's aura by being in an ally's/enemy's square.

Yakuza NinjIntimiAdin: Perma-stealth Striker that offers a little protection for ally's, and can intimidate bloodied enemies. Very Strong.

Chargeburgler with cheese Ranged attacks at the end of a charge along with perma-stealth. Solid, could be overpowered if tweaked.

Void Defender Defends giving a penalty to hit anyone but him, then removing himself from play. Can get somewhat broken in epic.

Scry and Die Attacking from around corners, while staying hidden. Moderate to broken, depending on the situation.

Skimisher Fly in, attack, and fly away. Also prevents enemies from coming close. Moderate to Broken depending on the enemy, but shouldn't make the game un-fun, as the rest of your team is at risk, and you have enough weaknesses.

Indestructible Simply won't die, even if you sleep though combat.  One of THE most abusive character in 4e.

Sir Robin (Bravely Charge Away) He automatically slows and pushes an enemy (5 squares), while charging away. Hard to rate it's power level, since it's terrain dependent.

Death's Gatekeeper A fun twist on a healic, making your party "unkillable". Overpowered to Broken, but shouldn't actually make the game un-fun, just TPK proof.

Death's Gatekeeper mk2, (Stealth Edition) Make your party "unkillable", and you hidden, while doing solid damage. Stronger then the above, but also easier for a DM to shut down. Broken, until your DM get's enough of it.

Domination and Death Dominate everything then kill them quickly. Only works @ 30, but is broken multiple ways.

Battlemind Mc Prone-Daze Protecting your allies by keeping enemies away. Quite powerful.

The Retaliator Getting hit deals more damage to the enemy then you receive yourself, and you can take plenty of hits. Heavy item dependency, Broken.

Dead Kobold Transit Teleports 98 squares a turn, and can bring someone along for the ride. Not fully built, so i can't judge the power.

Psilent Guardian Protect your allies, while being invisible. Overpowered, possibly broken.

Rune of Vengance Do lot's of damage while boosting your teams. Strong to slightly overpowered.

Charedent BarrageA charging ardent. Fine in a normal team, overpowered if there are 2 together, and easily broken in teams of 5.

Super Knight A tough, sticky, high damage knight. Strong.

Super Duper Knight Basically the same as super knight with items, making it far more broken.

Mora, the unkillable avenger Solid damage, while being neigh indestuctable. Overpowered, but not broken.

Swordburst Maximus At-Will Close Burst 3 that slide and prones. Protects allies with off actions. Strong, possibly over powered with the right party.

ACBTGOTRAIRGTIOITOTIRIAWJSHRWWLIULIAOUSGAD = greatest acronym ever. Sealed
Practical gameplay runs by neither RAW or RAI, but rather "A Compromise Between The Gist Of The Rule As I Recall Getting The Impression Of It That One Time I Read It And What Jerry Says He Remembers, Whatever, We'll Look It Up Later If Any Of Us Still Give A Damn."

This is extraordinarily accurate, thank you.

Gadamit I havnt even met Jerry, no wonder I have such trouble with the rules.
Laughing
ACBTGOTRAIRGTIOITOTIRIAWJSHRWWLIULIAOUSGAD = greatest acronym ever.


Patton Oswalt had one of these on the Roast Of William Shatner.
I got a CoC violation posting something Lisa Lampanelli said ... (evil grin)

Here comes your 19th forums breakdown ... ohh who's to blame, it ain't 5E driving you insane.

 

Of all the threads that I thought might have gotten some traffic while I was away, I really was not expecting this to be the most recent.  Weird.