Dungeons & Dragons has entertained us all for many decades now. In fact, it's been 44 years since Gary Gygax and Dave Arneson granted us the gift. Since then, fans all over the world have been crafting worlds within worlds to explore with friends. Usually, these worlds operate consistently. Using rules manuals allows our Dungeon Masters to come up with various scenarios to explore and monsters to defeat.
It’s that consistency which makes Dungeons & Dragons so entertaining, but for some types of players, that’s not enough. Why play a druid or a cleric the normal way when you can choose to break the game? These gimmicks range from fun and entertaining to totally world-shattering. Lots of these are also dependent on how far your Dungeon Master is willing to let players go.
So, for what it’s worth, let’s look through these game breaking behaviors. Here are 25 ways to break Dungeons & Dragons spread across all editions of the game. For reasons of popularity, I’ll be focusing on the editions 5 and 3.5. Let’s dive right in!
25 Embrace The Railgun (3.5 e)
I know what you're thinking, there are no railguns in DnD. Well, friends, that's where you're wrong.
The peasant railgun has undergone a series of variations through editions but was notably breaking games in 2e and 3.5e. The concept is simple enough, requires some preparation from the part of the player and a whole lot of tolerance from the DM. It involves lining up several hundred peasants (assuming you have them) in a straight line, then disassembling a wooden ladder into its components. You then command the peasant at the front of the line to ready an action to throw the piece of wood. Every other peasant behind them prepares an action to pass the piece of wood forward. Which means it covers all that ground in 6 seconds and is catapulted into the face of your enemy. Profit.
24 Bears Are Strong (5e)
Who can argue that bears are strong, right? They might fall off in terms of strength but they definitely give a rogue a run for his money.
Which is why I'm including an 'onion' druid build which appears notably in DnD 5e. While 3.5 allowed druids to cast the most devastating and game-changing spells, 5e allows them to skip much of the early grind to transform into big and bad beasties. Specifically, at level 2 a Druid can select a 'circle' to join. Pick circle of the moon, which also allows you to transform into a CR 1 and CR 2 at level 6. Focus on the tanky bear and everyone at your party will love you.
23 Deceased Armies (5e)
It's no secret that necromancy is an active, and fun hobby. It forces you to develop important managerial skills!
Well, necromancy is, and always has been, dope in D&D. One of its strongest applications is actually in the most recent iteration of the rule sets. Casters which wish to dabble in the dark arts should focus on the spell undead thrall. This will work together with an unwritten principle of DnD called 'bounded accuracy'. Basically, it means that the upper limit of the scores and abilities your undead will be rolling is determined largely by your level and the context of the spells use. Your thralls are stronger than you think, and your DM will hate that.
22 Animated Objects Of Doom (5e)
Who hasn't dreamed of having a tiny soldier army? It might mess with the game's tone, but it also is SUPER strong.
The spell animate object allows a caster in 5e to generate a handful (usually 10) of small objects which attack for 1d4+4. Let that sit for a second. While the spell will take up a fifth level slot, it's worth noting that 4 of your tiny soldiers can fit inside a standard 5ft battle space, which means they can attack one creature simultaneously. A careful summoner will remember that they only have 20 hp, however, and are very vulnerable to Area-of-effect spells.
21 Just Play A Rogue (5e)
I wish there was more to this entry, but read it and weep folks. In 5e, you can break the game simply by playing a rogue.
Let me explain my belligerence a bit. 5e introduces the skill 'cunning action' for rogues at level 2. This allows them to take a move action (hide, disengage) as a bonus action after their attack. So in theory, if you've built your character right with sneak and a decent dexterity modifier (+3/4) you can consistently attack from the shadows and retreat into them with little chance of being detected.
Your party will have strong feelings about the tactic, however, be warned.
Attack and hide is a joke.
20 Here Comes The Money (5e)
Have you ever heard the legend of the philosopher's stone? Midas' touch? All these powers can be yours, for the cost of a 9th level transmutation spell.
True polymorph is the name of the game, and while it will ask you to be a strong spellcaster, it's rewarding to make the concept of wealth arbitrary. All the DM's of the world with a balanced economy will cry in rage as you pick a big object, a tree or huge boulder, and transform it into gold. Bailout local banks and become a lord, or simply turn people into gold because you think you're some sort of genie.
19 Monk + Warlocks = Best Friends (5e)
Are there any classes which seem to work LESS as a combination than Warlock and Monk? Turns out, they're super overpowered when put together!
The premise is simple enough, but it requires you to multi-class monk and warlock until you have access to the following skills. Misty step, for monks. and one with the shadows as an eldritch feature of Warlocks. Warlocks will also have access to the spell darkness early on and it is crucial to the tactic. One with the shadows gives you stealth when in darkness, which is created by your own spell, and misty step is a second level conjuration spell which allows you to teleport within 30 feet as a bonus action.
Dazzle your friends, confuse your foes as a warlock monk today!
18 Cleaving Into Enemies (3.5e)
Oh man, anyone who has played DnD 3.5 can talk about how overpowered great cleave was. But did you know it was especially effective with a certain class?
The premise was, every attack which the player did which ended the life of an opponent, could then swing again at another opponent. Cleave limited the number of times this could happen, but great cleave removed that restriction. A prestige class called the Knight Defender allowed you to take a step between every attack. So you could swing, take a step forward, swing...and so forth.
It was tragic for your foe but great for your team.
17 The Wizard Bomb (3.5e)
This is a creative one, and a great way for players to throw a wrench in the DM's perfect plans.
The Wizard bomb focuses on a spell and a feat. You want to take a very strong metamagic feat which stacks damage on another one of your spells, and then use locate city on the target your party wants to focus. You pick the enemy holdout, where your DM has prepared several ambushes and plot points, and drop explosive metamagic damage in the middle of it.
You then stroll to the boss. It's great fun.
16 Enlarge / Reduce (2e)
Oh boy, the spells reduce and enlarge have always been a staple of shenanigans. Whether your DM allows them and to what extent will determine if you can pull off the following trick.
This was notably used in 2e, but you can exact variations of it in later editions. The premise is simple enough. A wizard first reduces a very large object like a stone boulder into something very small. You toss it at an opponent and then enlarge it before it makes contact with your foe! It may remind you of Ant-man, but it's also applicable to DnD!
Be creative with your combinations, try something new every session!
15 Bluffing Bear (3.5e)
A bear walks into a bar. He charms everyone and manages to obtain free accommodations for your party.
If you're thinking this is impossible, it's because you've never played a druid and bard multiclass in 3.5e! Skills worked differently back then, and it was really easy to obtain a level of proficiency in certain skills which made it impossible for your character to fail. A certain feat called glibness allowed a bard in 3.5 to have a +30 on his or her bluff skill rolls. Assuming you've multi-classed druid and can transform into animals, that means you can walk into any place and convince anyone you're actually a human!
Wow everyone with your conversation skills, and go about your day as a bipedal panther or bear!
14 Impregnable Fortress (5e)
Leomund's Impregnable Fortress is the D&D equivalent of a pillow fort, and it's really strong. Especially when it's combined with other spells.
Leomund's allows you to designate a certain 'safe' spot for your party to rest in, kind of like a magical tent. It's strongest features is that it is only visible to those the caster designates. It's invisibility, however, does come with certain magical limitations. Most notably, teleportation. Modenkainen's Private Sanctum is your answer to those problems. The 4th level evocation spell allows a wizard to designate a space in which it is impossible for sound to travel, or for people to teleport.
Make your own cozy anti-enemy space today!
13 The Old ACME Trick: Teleportation (5e)
Like the roadrunner and his coyote nemesis, D&D is defined by what your party is willing to do to your enemy. It's also about creativity and shenanigans.
The old teleportation circle trick is simple but great. It's a fourth level evocation spell which allows a player to designate a 10ft circle. This circle will teleport whatever falls within it can be teleported up to five feet away. You might think that's not a very long distance, but add a ravine into the mix. Or any trap for that matter.
ACME would be proud.
12 DOOM Symbol (5e)
Doom is a simple spell, it's a clean spell. That's what makes it so strong.
The necromancy spell allows you to inscribe a rune on an object or surface. When it comes into contact with an enemy (or god forbid, an ally), it detonates for 10d10 necrotic damage (half on save). Necrotic being the type of damage that reduces an enemies maximum health points permanently. This is all very classic when it's inscribed on a wall, but think how creative you can get with it. A bard at your local tavern is a criminal kingpin? Inscribe the sign on a dice and play a game with him.
Creative destruction! Yippee!
11 Monster Prize (5e)
This is a grim one, you've been warned. But if you're looking to make money quickly in the fifth edition, it might just be for you.
Now some monsters have more valuable parts of their bodies, such as their claws and teeth, which can be sold to merchants in the game world. The 7th level spell regenerate allows you to touch a creature and regenerate its life essence at a rate of 10 per minute. After two minutes, any severed part of the creature's body also reappears. See where I'm going with this? A 2-minute interval between the harvesting of rare scales or horns is ingenious, but it doesn't make you the nicest character in the realm.
Let the money you make be your friend.
10 Herbology 101 (5e)
Here is another scheme to make money quickly in D&D. I should start my own business consulting firm. This one involves less grim tasks.
Create a garden space, or simply find a patch of very rare herbs which you can cultivate. If you're a druid or ranger, you'll have access to a neat little spell called plant growth. This allows you to stimulate the growth of plants in a 100ft cube. Usually, this leaves players wondering what the point is, but if it's used to regrow a big batch of herbs which can be sold at an exorbitant price, what are you waiting for? Profit awaits.
9 Concentration Breaking (5e)
Rather than simply command your minions, learn to work with them! This is the message brought to you in the following entry.
Many spellcasters have come across the spell find familiar. Usually, the spell is overlooked. That should be a criminal offense. A later feature called gaze of the two minds allows a player to cast spells with the familiar. Because there is no range in D&D 5e when it comes to the concentration mechanic, players can cast spells such as Tsunami (6d10 300ft of water) or Storm of Vengeance (350ft radius, 2d6) while being far from the event! Weather control is at the tip of your familiars grasp!
8 Who Needs A Genie For Wishes (3e)
The premise is simple. When you get strong enough to cast the spell wish, could you wish for more wishes? It's a question as old as time.
It turns out that this was possible in the third edition, in a pretty creative way. If you had more than 8000g pieces you could purchase a candle of evocation. This candle could be consumed to summon in 34 hit dice worth of creatures through a 'gate.' Summon an efreet, which can grant three wishes. Whatever your first two wishes are (wealth, fortune), your third one needed to be an evocation candle. Repeat ad nauseum, or as long as your DM allows.
7 Infinity Wizard (5e)
Chain of simulacra, the reference to the spell is enough to give every DM in the world the goose-bumps. Why is it so bad, you ask?
Well, the spell allows a caster to create a copy of themselves, this copy retains the same spellcasting capabilities. In theory, then, every simulacrum (17th level spellcaster) copy of the player can create another copy of the player. Every one of these copies can cast the spell Wish independently. At that point, it just means you've won the game. Your DM can pack up his bags, you've summoned an infinitely powerful army of yourself.
This is why no one likes Wizards.
6 Playing Portal In Dungeons & Dragons (5e)
Valve might not be happy with the results, but it is possible. You can conduct your own safe and productive experiments with your foes!
It's not a trick everyone can pull off, however, as it requires you to have at least two of the wondrous "portable hole" item. Players can expend one action to put the hole down and create an artificial 10-foot deep crevasse into which they can place traps, or simply store things! But, what happens when you put a portable hole inside another portable hole? Scientists still don't understand the phenomenon, but it's sure to get your DM scribbling, or ripping out their hair.
5 Become A Dragon (3.5e)
While some classes might take the above statement literally (ahem Dragonborn), it's also possible to recreate a more destructive version of dragon fire in 3.5e.
Specifically, I refer to the "Dragonfire napalm" which was made popular following the introduction of the Dragonfire Adept class. This quasi-warlock allowed you a fire breath! But the edition of D&D also included the "entangling exaltation" feat. What did this result in? Well, every time you used your dragon breath, you also entangled every foe it hit! They then took 1d6 fire damage for 1d4 turns. Sure to turn the tide of many battles, and invaluable early on against mobs.
Taking Dragonfire adept, and entangling exaltation feat. 1d4 cone entangled with 1d6 fire dmg.
4 Horse Power (3.5e)
This is a silly one, but silly is sometimes just the thing you need.
This exploit involves lining up horses side by side over an extremely long distance. Like the peasant railgun, it assumes that you have the money to do this and that at this point you're looking for ways to annoy your DM. If you have a high ride skill, you should be able to mount and dismount the horse as a free action. Do this over the whole span of your horse network. Next, craft plans for implementing the horse line over the country. Of course, like the previous entry, this depends on your DM's tolerance.
FTL travel along horses lined up. Limited by DM free action.
3 Stone Shape: Doom! (3.5e)
Shaping stone into weapons is an often overlooked part of D&D. Stand out from the rest with the following exploit.
Now, someone who can shape stone can craft a certain 'volume' of stone. At certain folks have gone ahead and done the math to determine how to best use it. Here's a good combination for you. Stone shape a one-inch space around ten feet of stone. Ideal scenarios for this include a cave entrance which is guarded by a big and bad beasty. Once that ten-foot block falls on the create, it takes proportional damage of about 12,096 d6 on a failed reflex save. Better hope your enemy isn't an agile one, or you'll be hearing from their lawyer.
2 Rogue + Horse = Overpowered (5e)
By now if there is one thing to take away from this list, it's that Rogues in the fifth edition are silly. Take it as a tongue in cheek critique of 'broken' mechanics.
The silliness gets worse when you give them a horse. Indeed, the horse they ride into battle counts as an ally! He might not share your alignment, but he's loyal anyway. That means you always have an advantage on attacks and can add your sneak attack modifier to your swings. In theory, having an ally engaged in battle with the creature within 5ft of you works just as well. It sounds silly because it is. Who knew a rogue and his horse would be such a dynamic duo?
1 Kobold Shenanigans (3.5)
This is it. The ultimate exploit. Veterans of the game will recognize where I'm going with this just by the name...pun-pun.
Indeed, players have asked what the most game-breaking feature in D&D is as long as the game has existed. This name comes up more often than most. While the name is silly, it revolves around an older race called the Sarrukh, which had the unique ability to grant a reptilian any ability they wanted, without limit. So you start off innocently enough, ask your DM if you can play a kobold. It's cute, nothing wrong with it. You then shapeshift into a Sarrukh, summon a familiar who you also transform into a Sarrukh. That's when the fun begins. You grant yourselves whatever ability you want.
If that doesn't make your DM walk out the door and slam it on the way, I don't know what would.