MUNCHKIN Tips and Tricks

for AD&D 2nd Edition

by Roger M. Wilcox
last modified 3-February-2013

"Munchkinism" — also known as "power gaming," "min-maxing," "twinking," playing "Monty Haul" characters, and playing "disgusting characters" — is the fine art of creating the most super indestructable killing machine character imaginable.  I use the term "character" here loosely because piddling little details like personality, family history, friends and loved ones, etc., only get in the way of the really important details, such as how to maximize your hit points, armor class, THAC0, damage, attacks-per-round, saving throws, experience levels, and general sense of godhood.

The problem all too often faced by a novice player is not knowing how to take advantage of a gullible Dungeon Master or of the many loopholes in the rules.  It's a sorry sight indeed to see an otherwise invincible player-character walking around with only straight 18s in his abilities or a +5 longsword that isn't even an artifact.  This list of important tips and tricks was written with that wayward soul in mind.

(Note: Throughout this document, I use "he" to refer to the Dungeon Master and other players.  This is not because I am trying to save space by not writing "he or she"; it is because, at the time I started writing this, I had never met anyone of the female persuasion who took any interest whatsoever in munchkin-style fantasy role-playing, and I did not believe that such a creature existed.  One female munchkin e-mailed me to tell me I was mistaken, but "she" might have been E. Gary Gygax in disguise.)

Make sure you have a psionic Wild Talent

Wild Talents are explained in chapter 1, pages 19-21 of The Complete Psionics Handbook.  (You do have The Complete Psionics Handbook, don't you?)  Any character of any race or class may have a Wild Talent.  The chances of having one aren't very good, but hey, you're the one rolling the dice here, right?  (Wink wink.)  So, once you've "rolled" a 01 on those percentile dice, you get to roll on Table 12 (page 20) to see which Psionic Devotion you have.

Did I say "Psionic Devotion" in the singular?  What was I thinking?  Look at the 88-89 entry in Table 12.  It says "Roll three times."  Not "Roll three times ignoring this result hereafter."  If you were to keep "rolling" an 88 or 89 over and over, you would get each and every Psionic Devotion on this table.  But you can do even better than this.  Notice the following:

So, you should perform the following steps:
  1. "Roll" any number 91 through 99, which takes you to Table 13.
  2. "Roll" an 86, 87, or 88, which lets you roll 3 more times.
  3. "Roll" an 89, 90, 91, or 92, and pick one Science or Devotion your character does not already have.  (Note that you are not limited to choosing only those devotions/sciences that appear on Tables 12 and 13.)
  4. "Roll" an 89, 90, 91, or 92, and pick another Science or Devotion your character does not already have.
  5. Repeat steps 2-4 until you have every psionic Devotion and Science in the book.
You can speed this process up slightly by "rolling" a 00 in steps 3 and 4, which gives you any two Sciences plus any four Devotions instead of merely one Science or one Devotion, but since you can "roll" either of these results as many times as you need to, the overall effect will be the same.

Best of all, after your character has thus acquired every psionic power in the book, your character now gets to start out with a number of Psionic Strength Points (PSPs) equal to the minimum PSP cost to use every single Devotion and Science you now have.  Plus the PSP cost of running all of your "maintainable" Devotions and Sciences for 4 time increments.  It says so, right there in the second paragraph of page 20.  (Even the old Sage Advice column agrees, as evidenced by the very first question-and-answer in this Sage Advice article.)  This is far, far more PSPs than even the most powerful member of the Psionicist character class starts out with.  I've gone through and added up the minimum PSP costs for using (and maintaining 4 times) every Psionic Devotion and Science listed in the "Summary of Powers" at the end of The Complete Psionics Handbook.  I operated under the assumption that any Telepathic power whose PSP cost is listed as "Contact" actually costs the minimum number of PSPs required by the "Contact" Devotion, because, hey, if you need contact before you can use the other power, you'll have to pay the PSPs for establishing contact, right?  Right.  With this in mind, the grand total is 3566 PSPs.  And this is what your Wild Talent character starts out with at first level.  This will surely be enough psionic power to annihilate any of the lesser foes your character is likely to encounter at the start of his quest for ultimate power.

Create your own character class

Let's face it, the character classes in the 2nd Edition Player's Handbook are far too limiting.  Even with the "kit" classes in the Complete Handbook series, your characters are going to be pretty wimpy.  Even at 6th level, none of those character classes could hope to kill even a monster as insignificant as Tiamat without a large arsenal of magic items!  (Of course, by 6th level, your character will have a large arsenal of magic items, but that's not the point.  You shouldn't need magic items to pound one paltry 5-headed dragon goddess into the ground by the time you're 6th level.)  What you need is a brand new character class, one tailored precisely to your special munchkin needs.  And the way to convince your DM to let you play this character class is to combine capabilities from existing character classes.  No DM would think of rejecting a new character class whose every attribute has already been play-tested for balance in other, existing character classes.  Right?

Right.  So, first, you'll need to dig out those old 1st Edition rulebooks.  They have character classes in them that aren't in 2nd Edition, and which provide a valuable, ahem, starting point for creating your own class.  The 1st Edition Player's Handbook has the monk.  Unearthed Arcana has the barbarian.  Oriental Adventures has the kensai, the samurai, and the ever-popular ninja.  Look through the descriptions of these character classes.  Look for class capabilities that are useful, e.g. the monk's open-hand combat abilities.  Pay special attention to capabilities that increase with level and have no upper limit — these are going to be important when your character reaches super-colossally high experience levels.  Ignore those class capabilities that would restrict your character, e.g. can't wear armor, must donate excess wealth to charity, must abide by code of conduct, etc..  Finally, mix all the good stuff together, adding similar bonuses to each other whenever possible (e.g., monks get +1 weapon damage every 2 levels, and samurai get +1 damage every 3 levels, so your new character class should get a total of +5 weapon damage every 6 levels).

My Weapons Master character class is a preliminary example of what such a class should look like.  But, as you can see by reading the weapons master class description, it doesn't go nearly far enough.  Weapons masters can't wear armor or use shields.  They don't add the effective armor class of the kensai and the monk together.  They can't cast spells.  And they don't get the barbarian's 12-sided hit dice.  Surely, you can do better than this.  You want a class more like my over-the-top Death Machine character class.  At minimum, your class should have the following features:

And if, despite all your hard work coming up with a new character class and "balancing" it, your stinky DM still doesn't let you use your new class in his compaign . . .

Make sure your race is human

That's right.  If you can't make up a new character class with all the powers of the other classes combined, then you absolutely positively must play a human character.  Yes, I know humans don't get infravision or a constitution bonus to their saving throws.  But humans get something much, much better.  While all the other races have to slog through the muck of playing "multi-classed" characters, humans, and humans alone, get to be dual-classed characters.

Don't let the name "dual-classed" fool you. A dual-classed character doesn't have to be two different character classes at once. He can be any number of different character classes at once. The 2nd Edition Player's Handbook explicitly allows a character to change classes any number of times over his adventuring career. Now, if you have a printed copy of the 2nd Edition Revised PHB, it will state that the new class you switch to cannot be of the same class group you just switched from, e.g. a fighter cannot become a ranger. So be sure your DM is using the non-Revised 2nd Edition PHB, so that he won't know about that restriction. (This is easier than it sounds; the AD&D Core Rules 2.0 CD-ROM collection allegedly contains digital versions of the 2nd Edition Revised rulebooks, but its Player's Handbook doesn't contain that restriction on class-switching and is probably the pre-Revised text. Just show your DM this digital copy and he'll be thoroughly convinced that you can switch from mage to evoker to illusionist to transmuter to necromancer to....)

Oh, if the authors of 2nd Edition only knew what a Pandora's box they had opened by allowing human characters to switch classes more than once.  Mua ha ha ha ha!

Now, it is true that it takes just as many total experience points for an elven mage/thief to become 10th/13th level as it does for a human mage-turned-thief to become a 10th level mage and a 13th level thief.  But unlike a multi-classed character, a dual-classed character doesn't have to keep wasting experience points raising the level of classes that don't benefit from being really high level.  It's basically pointless to raise a thief above about 20th level, but not so with a mage.  So, you could become a thief, rise to 20th level, then switch to become a mage and go up to, say, 100th level after a few Monty-Haul gaming sessions.  A 100th level mage/20th level thief!  Try doing that with a multi-classed character!

A dual-classed character also has an opportunity to gain far more hit points than his multi-classed equivalent.  The 2nd Edition Player's Handbook says that, once a dual-classed character reaches a higher level in his new class than his maximum level in any of his previous classes:

"he earns additional Hit Dice (those of his new class) and hit points for gaining experience levels in his new class."
Now, some people have interpreted this to mean that a dual-classed character only gains hit dice in his new class if his new class is not yet at a high enough experience level to stop gaining hit dice — e.g., if a 9th-level fighter switched to being a mage, he'd gain an additional 4-sided hit die (plus up to a +2 hit point bonus from his Constitution) for going from 9th level to 10th level as a mage, but if he then went from 10th level to 11th level as a mage he'd only gain 1 additional hit point, because mages stop gaining hit dice after 10th level.  The people who say this are obviously pansies.  A mage is entitled to 10 total hit dice.  If he doesn't start gaining these new hit dice until 10th level, then by golly, he should keep gaining one new hit die each level thereafter until he reaches 19th level!  And if this 9th level fighter/19th level mage then changed classes again and became a thief, he'd gain a new hit die for each thief experience level he gained from 20th level through 29th level.  A dual-classed character can eventually gain all the allowed hit dice from each of his classes.

A dual-classed character with a Psionic Wild Talent also gets a real break when it comes to gaining Psionic Strength Points (PSPs).  The second paragraph on Page 20 of The Complete Psionics Handbook says that a Wild Talent "receives four additional PSPs every time he gains a new experience level."  Every time he gains a level.  Not merely every time his new level exceeds the highest level of any of his previous classes, like it is for hit points.  If a fighter with a Wild Talent worked his way up from 1st level to 9th level (for which he'd gain 32 PSPs on top of what he started out with), and then switched to being a mage, and then gained one lousy level as a mage to become 2nd level, he'd gain 4 more PSPs.  When he became a 3rd-level mage, he'd gain another 4 PSPs.

Of course, there is a disadvantage to being dual-classed, in that once you quit your old class you can't gain experience levels in that class anymore.  This means you must judiciously choose the order in which your character goes through all the character classes in the Player's Handbook.  (You are planning to have your dual-classed character eventually become every class in the Player's Handbook, aren't you?)  There are three overriding concerns when choosing what level to switch character classes at, and what new class to become:

My preferred character-class progression for a good, solid dual-classed munchkin character is as follows: Of course, you'll have to add more classes to the middle of this list if your DM allows kits.  And you'll want to substitute anti-paladin for paladin, and anti-ranger for ranger, if you prefer running evil characters.  (Your DM does permit anti-paladins and anti-rangers, doesn't he?)

Gems, gems, gems

Tables 85 and 86 in the 2nd Edition (Revised) Dungeon Master's Guide tell the DM how to randomly generate the values of all the gems in a treasure horde.  Look at table 86:
1Stone increases to the next higher base value. Roll again, ignoring all results but 1.
2Stone is double base value
3Stone is 10-60% above the base value
4Stone is 10-40% below the base value
5Stone is half base value
6Stone decreased to next lower base value. Roll again, ignoring all results but 6.
Look closely at this table, and notice what happens when the DM rolls a 1 on the D6 (not a hard feat to accomplish!).  What the authors obviously meant was "If he rolls any result other than a 1, stop rolling."  But that's not the way they worded it.  The way they worded it was, "Roll again, ignoring all results but 1."  Now, when I'm told to roll a die and "ignore" a certain result, that means to me that if I get the "ignored" result, I should keep re-rolling until I get a result that I'm not supposed to ignore.  This means if the DM rolls anything but a 1, he has to keep rerolling until he rolls another 1!  And then he has to keep rolling again, until he gets another 1, and then he has to roll again, ad infinitum.  A stone must, therefore, keep on increasing its base value forever.  The only upper limit is a little footnote right below this table, which reads in part:
No stone can be greater than 100,000 gp.
The upper limit was a whopping 1,000,000 g.p. back in the days of the 1st Edition DMG.  But even with the highest gem value being one-tenth the 1st Edition amount, one out of every six gems you find on your adventures should be worth a hundred thousand gold pieces!!

Show this to your DM.  I'll bet he's been ignoring this important little rule all this time, and it's high time you brought him into line with the way random gem values are supposed to be generated.  Trust me, he'll thank you for it.

(Warning: Don't get your DM to look at the tables too hard.  There is a little note between tables 85 and 86 indicating that only 10% of all gems should get to roll on table 86 to have their value altered.  This decreases the chance of a gem being worth 100,000 g.p. from 1-in-6 to 1-in-60.  However, I didn't notice this note when I first scanned the section on gem values, and if you can get your DM to read this section quickly enough, neither will he.)

Mix lots of potions together

You'll notice from table 111 in the 2nd Edition (Revised) DMG that many bad things can happen when you mix two potions together.  Ignore these bad things.  If you mix potions together in the privacy of your own home, you can always, ahem, "roll" a 91-99 to get one of the two potions to act at 150% of its normal efficacy, and then mix this with a third potion and "roll" a 00 to make its effects permanent.

If you're DM is a real push-over, he might even allow you to bring in a spoon of stirring from Unearthed Arcana.  Although the spoon of stirring wasn't included in the 2nd Edition DMG, the Encyclopedia Magica contains every AD&D magic item that has ever been published anywhere, going back to the beginning of time; and since the Encyclopedia Magica was published after the 2nd Edition rulebooks came out, it's obviously part of 2nd Edition, so everything in it counts as a valid 2nd Edition magic item.  Including the spoon of stirring.  This seemingly innocent magic item has a 1 in 100 chance of doubling the strength of any potion stirred with it.  (And home alone, you can easily roll the required number each time, right?)  Just imagine what drinking a double-strength permanent potion of invulnerability can do for you.  To say nothing of drinking double-strength permanent potions of storm giant strength, ESP, levitation, speed, fire breath . . .

And speaking of potions of giant strength, it has been brought to my attention that nowhere in the 2nd Edition rules does it say that the damage bonus bestowed by a potion of giant strength isn't cumulative with the damage bonus from your natural strength score.  Oh, sure, the DMG's description for a girdle of giant strength says that its effects aren't cumulative with normal or magical strength bonuses, but a potion of giant strength has no such limitation.  If your character has a natural strength of 18/00, which would normally give him a +6 damage adjustment in melee, and he imbibes a potion of storm giant strength, which bestows a +12 damage bonus with any hand-held or thrown weapon, then he should get a total melee damage bonus of +18.  And if your character had wished his strength up to 25, for a damage adjustment of +14, then a potion of storm giant strength should raise his melee damage bonus to +26.  I have not found a Sage Advice article anywhere that contradicts this assumption.  Note that a potion of storm giant strength at 150% effectiveness would add 150% of its normal damage bonus, or +18 damage points, on top of the damage adjustment for your character's natural strength, and a double-strength potion of storm giant strength would of course add a damage bonus of +24.

Wear more than two rings

You know as well as I do that the rule against wearing more than two magic rings at a time was put in there only to keep NPCs from getting too powerful.  No game is any fun when the NPCs are more powerful than the Player Characters, and one way to keep them down is to ensure that they never gain any benefit from wearing more than two magic rings at the same time.  You shouldn't have to suffer for those NPCs' transgressions.  Player Characters were obviously meant to be able to wear and use as many magic rings as they want at the same time.

If your DM doubts this explanation, just show him this webpage.  This page is on the Internet, so everything it says must be true.  And if he still won't believe it, make yourself some gauntlets of infinite ring-wearing (you can wear them over your gloves of missile snaring and underneath your gauntlets of ogre power).  Or just cast a wish spell and wish for the ability to wear an unlimited number of magic rings that function simultaneously.  But remember:

Be careful what you wish for

The authors of the 2nd Edition Player's Handbook really screwed us over by adding this sentence to the description of the 9th-level wizard spell "wish":
Casting a wish spell ages the caster five years.
There was a sentence in the 1st Edition DMG which said that wish spells age the caster by 3 years, but it was squirrelled away in the little "unnatural aging" subsection on page 13, which was obscure enough that the DM had a good chance of missing it.  There's no way he's gonna miss it when it's right there in the spell description, like it is in 2nd Edition.  I'll bet the authors of 2nd Edition were just jealous of us.  But, lo and behold, there's an easy way around it — as well as an easy way around the 2d4 days of bed rest required if the wish spell improves your status.  Namely, wish spells will give you exactly what you wish for.  It's all in the phrasing of your wish.  Instead of phrasing your wish like this:
"I wish Asmodeus were dead and I got all the experience points from killing him and all his treasure."
. . . phrase it like this:
"I wish Asmodeus were dead and I got all the experience points from killing him and all his treasure, and that I were de-aged 5 years and didn't need 2d4 days of bed rest."
Boom!  Problem solved.  Poor ol' Asmodeus never even saw it coming.  And you can go about the rest of your daily chores without so much as breaking stride.

Now, a party-pooper DM might insist that these are actually 3 different wishes — a wish that you killed Asmodeus, a wish that you were de-aged 5 years, and a wish that you didn't need bed rest.  I hasten to remind such a DM that this wish is phrased as one sentence.  That should be good enough.  And no fair going and transporting the player-character back in time 5 years, you naughty DM — he only wished to be de-aged, not younger.

If you accidentally forget to add this phrasing to one of your wish spells, and the DM hits you with that 5 year sentence, you can always cast another wish spell in which you wish to be de-aged by 10 years, or drink an elixir of youth or two.  And if one of your character classes is hierophant druid, aging by 5 years won't affect you anyway. . . .

Mix-and-match the rules in the DM Option: High Level Campaigns supplement

Some of the rules in the DM Option: High Level Campaigns rules supplement are quite good.  And by "good," I mean they will make you more powerful.  It has spell progressions for bards and clerics beyond 20th experience level, and it has those swell "true dweomer" spells which are essentially 10th-level spells.  These rules are obviously important and should be embraced and used immediately.

However, it also contains some bad rules, which should be summarily ignored.  For instance, it limits the "cone of cold" spell to doing 10d4+10 damage points.  This is ridiculous.  If the authors of the Player's Handbook hadn't wanted a 60th level mage to be able to cast a 60d4+60 cone of cold, they would have said so.  And worse, far worse, they have the audacity to say that characters should not be allowed to progress beyond 30th level!  That's absurd!  It's absolutely unthinkable that your characters should be restricted to such a piddling low level.  Why, even the Complete Wizard's Handbook has spell progression charts that go up beyond 30th level!  And that's a 2nd Edition rules supplement just like DM Option: High Level Campaigns is, too!  These two supplements can't both be right.  There is only one logical explanation: the authors of the High Level Campaigns supplement obviously made a typo when they said 30th level was the highest experience level a character can achieve.  They probably meant 30 millionth level or something.

The new way of doing saving throws against magic in the DM Option: High Level Campaigns rules supplement needs special attention.  This rule reduces the chance of the target making its saving throw if the spellcaster is of a very high experience level.  Obviously, such a rule should never be applied to saving throws made by your character; if the PHB says you have a base saving throw vs. spells of 4 or better, then by golly, you should save on a 4 or better even if the spell is being cast by Baalzebul or Yeenoghu or Bahamut or even an enemy munchkin character.  However, it would be awfully nice if all the characters and monsters your character cast spells against had to abide by the new "adjusted-for-caster-level" saving throw rules.  You should point out the new adjust-for-caster-level rule whenever you cast a spell that allows the saving throw, but "conveniently" forget to mention it (and quickly read off your "regular" saving throw from the PHB and roll it before the DM can object) whenever an opponent casts a spell against you.

Buy your magic items

Don't waste time waiting around for the DM to dole out a few paltry magic items to you as part of a treasure "horde."  He uses random treasure determination tables to figure out what magic items you're going to get anyway, which means you'll end up with a whole bunch of crap you can't use, like a spade of colossal excavation or a saw of mighty cutting.  Or, worse, a figurine of wondrous power — what good are a pair of golden lions against the beings you normally expect to encounter, such as Asmodeus, or Bahamut, or Demogorgon and Orcus out on a Sunday stroll together, or a room full of Tarrasques?  And even if the lions did help you defeat your enemies, this only means that they'd get a share of the experience points that would otherwise have gone to you!  No, randomly generated magic treasure is only useful insofar as your ability to sell it so that you can get the higher x.p. value for all the gold pieces it's worth.

Now, the 2nd Edition Dungeon Master's Guide is very stingy when it comes to selling magic items.  The authors assumed that no one would ever want to sell any magic items.  Ever.  Not even if all you're trying to sell is a lousy philter of love.  Thus, they don't bother to list the gold piece sale value of any of the magic items listed therein.  You have to get hold of an old copy of the First edition Dungeon Master's Guide — or, preferrably, the 1st Edition Unearthed Arcana rules supplement — in order to get the price tables for magic items.  (The Encyclopedia Magica also has the gold piece sale value of all magic items, but they're not condensed into convenient table form.)  You must have one of these price tables if you ever hope to be able to sell off all your useless magic items and get the higher gold-piece-based experience point awards for them.  They are a vital gaming accessory for the successful munchkin.  You can tell the DM that a sword +2 is worth 5 times its x.p. value in gold pieces (and thus will net you 5 times as many experience points if you sell it), but without such ammunition as these pricing tables, he might not believe you.

But think about this.  If you're selling a bag of beans or a horn of Valhalla, it means somebody out there has to buy it.  Darn it, there's a market for magic items out there!  If you can sell a sword +2 for 4000 gold pieces, you should be able to buy a sword +2 for 4000 gold pieces!  Theoretically, this mysterious "magic item market" should have everything, considering how many magic items you've sold over the course of your adventuring career, right?  Of course.

So, armed with these pricing tables, we discover that if you've just found a pair of swords +2, you should be able to sell them both for 4000 g.p. each, netting you a total of 8000 g.p. (and thus 8000 more x.p. for the adventure, since every g.p. worth of treasure you cart off is worth an experience point).  If you have an additional 2000 g.p. lying around as gems or platinum pieces or other similar forms of loose change, you can then take the 10,000 g.p. you now have and use them to buy yourself a sword +4.  And you might as well make it an intelligent sword +4, because nowhere in the DMG does it say that intelligence increases a weapon's sale value.  Weapons with maximum (17) intelligence get 3 primary abilities and one extraordinary power, but if you roll the dice just right you can increase this to eight extraordinary powers and eight special purposes.  (Roll 99 or 00 for all 3 primary abilities, which turns them all into extraordinary powers; then roll 95, 96, or 97 for each of these 4 extraordinary powers, which doubles their number; then roll 00 for each of these 8 extraordinary powers, which attaches a special purpose to each one.  But be careful — at low experience levels, an intellgent weapon with that many powers and languages can have a bigger ego than you do, if such a thing is possible.)  Now we're getting somewhere!  With this new +4 intelligent weapon at your disposal, you'll easily be able to dispatch more powerful monsters, and as we all know, more powerful monsters always have more treasure.  After acquiring another 8000 g.p. from this next set of monsters, you can sell your sword +4 and get your 10,000 g.p. back; and with this new 18,000 g.p. total you can buy yourself a sword +5, defender.

An important magic item to buy lots and lots of times is the sword +1, luck blade.  They're only 5000 g.p. each, and each one can contain up to five (5) wish spells.  Since you're buying it yourself, you're going to make sure it has all 5 wish spells intact, of course.  That's only 1000 g.p. per wish spell, and since these wish spells aren't being cast by you personally, you don't have to piddle around with getting aged 5 years or being stuck in bed for 2-8 days.  But most importantly, after you've used up all 5 wish spells, the sword is still a sword +1, luck blade — which means you can sell it for the same 5000 g.p. you bought it!  The net cost to you is zero, and you still get 5 wishes out of the deal.  (Even if your pinch-penny DM insists that no one would buy a sword +1, luck blade with no wishes left on it for the full 5000 g.p. sale value, you should at least be able to sell it back for the 2000 g.p. price of an ordinary sword +1.)  Best of all, each of these wish spells can be used to raise your stats.  Sure, you started out with straight 18s across the board and an 18/00 strength (you did start out this way, didn't you?), but the character ability tables in the Player's Handbook go all the way up to 25.  It takes only 10 wish spells (2 sword +1, luck blades) to raise one of your abilitites by 1, which means it takes 70 wishes (14 sword +1, luck blades) to raise one of your abilities all the way from 18 to 25.  420 wishes (84 sword +1, luck blades) will raise all of your abilities from 18 to 25.  Another 10 wishes (2 more sword +1, luck blades) and your strength should go up from 25 to 25*, the * indicating that you are now imbued with Atlas Strength and there is no upper limit to the amount of weight you can carry.  (Having an unlimited carrying capacity is particularly important when you have to haul 84 sword +1, luck blades back and forth from the magic item shop.)

But the fun doesn't have to stop at the magic items listed in the DMG and the Tome of Magic and The Complete Wizard's Handbook.  You shouldn't have to choose between having, say, a sword +5, defender and a scimitar of speed.  For one thing, Unearthed Arcana's magic item tables have a sword +6, defender.  There's no reason why you shouldn't be able to have such a weapon in a 2nd Edition campaign.  You're a munchkin — you deserve a +6 sword!  Why should the Unearthed Arcana folks have all the fun?  But more importantly, now that you've got enough gold pieces for it and don't have to be limited by the whim of a random magic-item generation table, you should easily be able to convince your DM that, in theory, it is possible to have combination magic items.

Now, I'm not advocating that you go around creating new magic items out of thin air.  In fact, you should tell your DM that you're not advocating creating new magic items out of thin air, either.  It'll help convince the gullible little sod that what you're proposing is perfectly reasonable.  (And it is — isn't it reasonable to want to give your character the best of everything?)  What you're proposing is that, if a sword +6, defender costs 30,000 gold pieces, and a scimitar of speed +1 costs 9,000 gold pieces, then for 39,000 gold pieces you should easily be able to find someone willing to sell you a sword +6, defender of speed.  See?  All you've done is created a combination of magic items that are already part of the game.  That's not nearly as bad as, say, inventing a +6 Sword of Killing Everything Instantly!

Not that you can't use this trick to create a +6 sword that actually can kill everything instantly.  You'll notice that an arrow of slaying only costs 2500 gold pieces.  An arrow of slaying must be designated to slay a particular type of creature, of course, so you can't just plunk down 2500 gold pieces and get an arrow of slaying everything; 2500 g.p. will only get you an arrow of slaying, say, undead.  But why not add that ability onto your sword?  There's nothing that says a magic sword can't have the powers normally associated with a magic arrow, is there?  Naw, of course not.  If 39,000 gold pieces can buy you a sword +6, defender of speed, then 41,500 gold pieces should be able to buy you a sword +6, defender of speed and slaying undead.  The only difference between using this weapon against an undead creature and using a regular arrow of slaying undead is that, since this isn't an arrow, you can reuse it over and over and over and over. . . .

There are 20 different kinds of creatures that arrows of slaying can be designated to slay, listed in the 2nd Edition DMG.  Logically (assuming your logic is munchkin logic, of course), since adding a single "slaying" ability onto a magic weapon costs 2500 g.p., you should be able to add all 20 slaying abilities onto a magic weapon for 50,000 g.p..  This will make it capable of instantly killing just about anything it hits, with no saving throw allowed.  Just to be safe, though, you'll want to throw in a slaying ability against a 21st type of creature — the "everything else not already listed under arrow of slaying in the DMG" creature.  This is quite a bargain for the extra 2500 g.p. it costs.  You can now have a sword +6, defender of speed and slaying everything, at a cost of a measly 91,500 g.p.  That's less than the sale value of many artifacts!

And speaking of artifacts:

Make up artifacts and buy them, too

I do not advocate making an artifact that can do anything.  Such a thing would imbalance the game, and worse, the DM might not allow it.  Tell your DM that you're going to limit yourself to using only those artifact powers found in Appendix B of the 2nd Edition Book of Artifacts, which have already been playtested for balance and, thus, couldn't possibly upset anything.  He'll be delighted to let you buy all the artifacts you want . . . provided you can establish, using existing rules, how many gold pieces your artifact should cost.

Take a look at the entry for the Teeth of Dahlver-Nar in table (III.E.) special in the 1st Edition DMG.  That's the table that shows the g.p. sale value of artifacts.  Each of the teeth of Dahlver-Nar is worth only 5000 gold pieces.  Each of the teeth of Dahlver-Nar is also an artifact with one artifact power/effect and all the other things that go along with being an artifact.

Therefore, you should logically get to apply what I call the Teeth of Dahlver-Nar rule:

Artifact powers may be added to any magic item at a cost of 5000 g.p. per artifact power.
Now, unfortunately, the artifact powers and effects tables from the 1st Edition DMG are no longer with us.  The 2nd Edition Book of Artifacts has totally replaced the 1st edition artifact rules.  But . . . artifacts still have powers.  And the 2nd Edition Book of Artifacts has still laid out these artifact powers on random tables in Appendix B, similar to the way they were laid out in the 1st Edition DMG.  Thus, I can't see any reason why the DM shouldn't let you add any of the powers listed in Appendix B of the 2nd Edition Book of Artifacts to your existing magic items for 5000 gold pieces each.  If a sword +6, vorpal defender of slaying everything costs 132,500 g.p., then for 137,500 g.p. you should be able to buy an identical sword that grants you a constant protection from fire (Appendix B, table 33, entry 14).

Even if you don't think you need any of those artifact powers (which, believe me, you do need), it's still to your benefit to give at least one artifact power to every important magic item you own.  Why?  Because adding that first artifact power to an item will raise it out of the mire of being a lowly run-of-the-mill magic trinket to being a real artifact, and just the fact that a magic item is an artifact has some wonderful consequences.  An artifact gets a much better saving throw against a rod of cancellation than any non-artifact magic item does.  Artifacts will operate inside an anti-magic shell, while all other magic items will have their powers suppressed.  Mordenkainen's disjunction only has a 1% chance per casting level of affecting an artifact, and even if this chance succeeds, the artifact gets to make the same saving throw that an ordinary non-artifact magic item does.  The only drawback is that all artifacts have to have some special procedure that can un-make and destroy them.  You'll have to come up with a process by which each of your artifacts can be un-made.  It should look something like this:

Procedure to un-make Stupendous Man's artifact sword +6, holy vorpal defender frost-brand flame-tongue sun luckblade of wounding, dancing, sharpness, thunderbolts, life stealing, nine lives stealer, slaying everything, speed, quickness, venom, disruption, and throwing with 17 intelligence, speech and telepathy, read languages, read magic, 10 languages spoken (in addition to Common), eight extraordinary powers, eight special purposes, and too many artifact powers to list:

While standing at the center of a supernova, grasp the artifact in all 7 of your hands and stab yourself repeatedly with it while reciting the Bible (including the apocrypha) backwards, from memory.  Then, have Orcus put the artifact in a bag of holding and carry that bag of holding with him into a portable hole.  Then find the artifact again (with or without Orcus) and carry it with you as you jump into a sphere of annihilation.  If you can make it back out of the sphere of annihilation, the artifact will be successfully un-made.

This sounds to me like a perfectly reasonable formula for un-making an artifact, and I'm sure your DM will agree.

Some artifact powers in Appendix B need special attention:

Table 31, entry 12 gives you a permanent +1 to all your saving throws.  There's no reason you can't take this power more than once.  Take it enough times and you're sure to bring all your saving throws down to, say, -30 or better.  This is especially important if you have a scarab of protection, which gives you a saving throw of 20 against all spells which normally allow no saving throw.  The rules for the scarab of protection are even nice enough that they explicitly allow you to add all your saving throw bonuses to this saving throw of 20.  (Sometimes the rules just hand you invincibility on a silver platter!)  Take the table 31, entry 12 power 19 times and you'll save against no-save spells on a 1 or better — even if you left your artifact at home.

Table 24, entry 12 adds +20% to your magic resistance.  Now, back in the days of 1st Edition, magic resistance wasn't quite so useful.  For every experience level of the spell-caster above 11th, the target's magic resistance was reduced by 5%.  But that rule is gone in 2nd Edition.  A 50% magic resistance means everybody's spells — yours, Gandalf's, Odin's, Zeus's — have a 50% chance of totally failing to affect you in any way.  So, take the table 24, entry 12 power 5 times and you've got 100% magic resistance.  Hostile magic spells and spell-like powers will not affect you at all.  (Okay, that's not quite true.  There's a spell in the Tome of Magic called "lower resistance," against which only half your magic resistance applies.  Thus, you'll need to take the table 24, entry 12 power 10 times, for 200% total magic resistance.)

Table 27, entry 4 gives you double the overland movement rate.  Does that mean that taking table 27, entry 4 twice gives you quadruple the overland movement rate?  I don't see why not.  A normal munchkin character with a base movement rate of 32 (that's the base move for a 17th level monk, which you of course incorporated into that roll-your-own character class of yours, right?) with the table 27, entry 4 power taken once will have a base movement rate of 64.  Take the power twice, and he'll have a base move of 128.  Three times, and he'll have a base move of 256.  Theoretically, there's no upper limit to how fast your character's base move can become, although your DM may wish to impose an absolute maximum movement rate of 550,000 (that's the speed of light outdoors).

Table 12, entry 5 provides double attacks per round, but only when the artifact is being used as a weapon.  Now, suppose your character is a high-level fighter who has attained grand mastery (c.f. Player's Option: Combat & Tactics) with the longsword.  He would therefore normally be entitled to 7 melee attacks every 2 rounds with a longsword.  (Of course, whatever character class you've designed will figure out a way to get even more base attacks per round.  I'm just using the 7/2 attacks of a fighter with grand mastery as a cheap example.)  However, if he wields an artifact longsword with the table 12, entry 5 power, he will be able to attack 7 times per round with the artifact.  In addition, note that this power doesn't say you only get double attacks per round with the artifact.  You only have to be wielding the artifact as a weapon.  What if you're wielding an artifact longsword with the table 12, entry 5 power in your right hand, and a plain non-artifact dagger in your left hand?  Surely, the "double attacks per round" power of the sword should apply to the number of attacks per round you get with the dagger, too!  And what if the dagger is also an artifact with the table 12, entry 5 power?  Then, darn it, each artifact weapon should double the number of attacks you get with both itself and with the other artifact weapon you're wielding.  You ought to get quadruple attacks per round with each weapon.  Whine about this to your DM until he sees the obvious, flawless logic of such an assertion.

Table 33, entry 14 gives you protection from fire constantly in effect as long as the artifact is in hand.  Now, according to the 2nd Edition Player's Handbook, there are two different ways the 3rd-level priest spell "protection from fire" can operate.  If it's cast on someone other than the spellcaster, it gives that person a +4 to saving throws against fire and cuts magical fire damage in half.  If it's cast on the spellcaster, though, it absorbs 12 damage points of fire damage per level of the caster.  (Artifacts are considered to be 20th level spellcasters with respect to spell effects, according to page 138 of the Book of Artifacts.)  The question is, which version of the protection from fire spell does an artifact give you?  Purists would argue that since the protection from fire bestowed is constant, it should be the kind of protection afforded to creatures other than the spellcaster, because that version doesn't require you to count damage points, and besides, it sounds rather absurd to have an effect that stops after a certain number of damage points are absorbed and is constant at the same time so that it doesn't stop.  I say, though, that this doesn't sound absurd at all.  It makes perfect sense that an artifact's constant protection from fire spell would absorb 240 damage points, then "stop," but since it's constant it actually wouldn't stop, and it would be instantly ready to absorb another 240 damage points, even if those next 240 damage points were from the same fire attack.  It would provide complete and total immunity to fire forever and ever.  This is obviously the best interpretation of the table 33, entry 14 power.  A munchkin character like yours shouldn't have to be bothered by trivial annoyances like taking fire damage.

Cast stoneskin and invulnerability to magical weapons

The threat of an arrow of slaying — or more to the point, the threat of another munchkin armed with an artifact weapon with the arrow of slaying's slaying effect — is very real.  No saving throws are allowed against the slaying effect of an arrow of slaying.  The scarab of protection's saving-throw-versus-no-save-spells won't help you against it, because an arrow of slaying is not a spell.  Magic resistance won't help you either, because an arrow of slaying isn't a spell-like power.  Even an anti-magic shell will be useless if the slaying-imbued weapon is an artifact.

And don't go bragging about your negative triple-digit armor class, either.  In the arms race of THAC0 versus AC, THAC0 improves a lot faster with experience points than AC does.  Even if you're a kensai.  So trust me, if another munchkin of approximately your own power level attacks you, you will get hit.

The only two defenses against an artifact weapon of slaying wielded by another munchkin are the stoneskin spell, and the invulnerability to magical weapons spell (the latter spell being from the Complete Wizard's Handbook).  The thing is, neither spell is perfect.  Stoneskin can be negated by a number of attacks (physical or magical) equal to half your level plus 1d4.  Worse, your DM might get a sudden attack of curmudgeonyness and insist that the rule in DM Option: High Level Campaigns be enforced, which limits the duration of a stoneskin spell to 24 hours.  The bastard.  Invulnerability to magical weapons, meanwhile, lasts 1 round per level — this doesn't sound like much until your wizard level starts getting up into the quadruple-digits, and you realize that there are only 60 rounds in an hour and 1440 rounds in a day.  For a 10 000th level mage, an invulnerability to magical weapons spell would last a week.  However, invulnerability to magical weapons can easily be bypassed if the attacker discards his +5 holy vorpal frost-brand luckblade and draws a non-magical longsword.  (Sure, you also have a permanent potion of invulnerability in effect on yourself, but the other munchkin might be part kensai or part barbarian, and would therefore be able to hit creatures "struck only by magical weapons" with that non-magical longsword of his.)

The solution is, cast them both.  Then you'll have the invulnerability to magical weapons spell's limitless duration and the stoneskin spell's immunity to non-magical weapons.  And, logically, all magical weapon attacks should be assumed to strike the invulnerability to magical weapons spell first and not go against the attack-absorption total of the stoneskin spell.  (You don't have to worry about attack spells going against the attack-absorption total of your stoneskin spell either, because you've got 200% magic resistance from your artifacts, of course.  Which, come to think of it, should also prevent a dispel magic spell or a Mordenkainen's disjunction spell from bringing down your stoneskin and invulnerability to magical weapons spells.)

These two spells taken together will protect you from the slaying attacks of other pernicious munchkins, unless they decide to cast an anti-magic shell first.  Now, I used to suggest that, in order to prepare for such a circumstance, you should make sure that one of your artifacts has the table 20, entry 17 power of "cast stoneskin (1/day)," because as everyone knows, an artifact will continue to function even inside an anti-magic shell.  However, the "Sage Advice" article in Dragon magazine, issue #156, page 55, says that within an anti-magic shell — or, for that matter, within the anti-magic ray of a beholder — any spell-like effects produced by an artifact will be suppressed.  Hmph!  If your DM throws a munchkin NPC at you who's armed with an "of slaying" artifact weapon and an anti-magic shell, you will need to hide that issue of Dragon so that said DM can't find it.

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