Sometimes when I see a character with a skillset that doesn’t make sense for them to have, it’s because they’re a Mary Sue. But sometimes, it’s just because apparently on their character sheet, they put a bunch of ranks in a random skill that doesn’t make sense for their character class.
Sometimes that happens.
I mean, sometimes I think of really funny characters, like a barbarian with high intelligence. Who wears a top hat and monocle and speaks with a British accent. Hilarious!
But that’s not what I’m talking about. I’m talking about when I’m watching Sherlock, the one with RDJ as Sherlock, and both he and Moriarty are really good at fisticuffs. I mean, I’ve never read the books, or watched the TV series with Burndarling Candybatch and maybe Sherlock (and Moriarty) really do just have a bunch of ranks in fisticuffs. I dunno. It isn’t less surprising to me. I mean, he’s Sherlock, not Batman. But okay. This gentleman and his professor gentleman rival could both be good at fisticuffs, whatever.
The thing about min-maxing or munchkining – the practice of managing to build something stupidly OP even within set limitations – is that sometimes it’s great, way fun! and sometimes it’s not. For anyone.
Sometimes you do have a hero or villain who is overpowered because they are a Mary Sue. And sometimes it’s just because the writer was very clever in their selection of skills and traits. And what counts as OP will vary a bit or a lot from person to person. I for one feel like most shapeshifters are totally OP unless they have pretty heavy rules. Which of course means that even though I think she’s a way cool character, Mystique drives me crazy. But I don’t know a lot of people who have a problem with her abilities. Maybe in a world where you have a lot of other cool mutant powers, it’s more balanced. I dunno, my main exposure to X-men are some of the movies. But honestly, since there are so many people who are a huge fan of one of the biggest Mary Sues I’ve ever encountered, the point still stands as to how there’s some variation of opinion.
The thing about it is that there’s not necessarily a difference between Munckining and making a Mary Sue. The difference is all in how it’s written, which in a way makes them the same because you can have a Mary Sue who is enjoyable if they’re still well written. Most Chosen Ones are at least a little bit of a Mary Sue. It comes with the territory.
So don’t worry about whether or not min-maxing will ruin your character or make them a Munchkin Sue. Just worry about writing well and it won’t matter.