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In the Munchkin instructions it says:

You can bribe someone to help. In fact, you'll probably have to. You may offer your helper any Item(s) you are currently carrying, or any number of the Treasure cards the monster has. If you offer him part of the monster's treasure you must agree whether he picks first, or you pick first, or whatever.

While under the trading section it states this regarding a "bribe":

You may also give Items away without trade, to bribe other players - "I'll give you my Flaming Armor if you won't help Bog fight that dragon!" You may show your hand to others. Like we could stop you.

This is within the same trading section that states that you may only trade Items from the table that are items.

Does this mean that all "bribes" can only be given from your hand (carried items)? Or are bribes handled differently when "Asking For Help" for help as opposed to out of turn bribing under the "Trading" section?

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There's nothing in the second rules quote that contradicts the first rules quote. Regardless of in-turn versus out-of-turn, giving an item to a person requires that the item is in your inventory (it's on the table in front of you, regardless of whether it's equipped or not).

This doesn't mean that's the only way to affect a combat or bribe your opponents, of course: you could threaten/promise to play a potion, one-shot item, or monster-enhancer on the current combat (or someone's future combat), either for or against the player(s). You wouldn't be giving the player an item, but you would be using the item in a way that could affect their current decision. There's nothing requiring you to follow through on a promise, of course, but it's going to affect your reputation: if you don't follow through on a promise, your fellow players probably won't believe you the next time you promise something.

Some clarifications that may help:

  1. Equipped items are face-up in front of you (i.e., part of your inventory), and they add to your Levels because you have sufficient slots to use them. (Potions and some other items are slotless, but most other items take a slot: one hand, headgear, armor, etc. Potions can be played from your hand or your inventory.)

  2. Carried items are in your inventory; they're whatever you're not equipping. You don't have to drop them, and you don't have to apply Charity to them, but they're not adding to your Level. If you have three one-handed items, then you're going to equip two of them and carry the other one. I usually turn carried cards sideways to make it clear what I'm equipped with.

  3. Your hand is not your inventory, and is unrelated to your equipped and carried items. It's always referred to as "your hand" in the rules.

  • If it's the case that carried items are those in play in front of you I feel as though that causes even more of a conflict since in the "trading" section it says that you may show your hand to others when giving items away for a bribe. There would be not reason to show a hand if the rule only applied to carried items. And there is no mention of the other types of bribes you mention in the same section that focuses on "trading". Not saying your wrong, but it still doesn't seem to completely clear. – Ein Doofus Nov 3 '14 at 19:26
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    @EinDoofus You may show your hand to your opponents: this is part of effective extortion. "Don't help Bob or I will use this monster-enhancer here, along with this specific potion and that curse" is a much more effective threat than "I have cards you don't want me to play, but you can't see them." Showing your hand is about backing up your words, not about trading cards from your hand. – PotatoEngineer Nov 3 '14 at 19:48
  • That makes sense but there is still any issue with the "carried" items you mention. At the beginning of the "Turn Phases" section it states that "At the start of your turn, you may play cards, switch items from "in use" to "carried" or vice versa, trade items with other players, and sell items for levels", which would mean that in play items are labelled as "in use" and not "carried". – Ein Doofus Nov 3 '14 at 19:59
  • @EinDoofus I was a bit sloppy with terminology there; I'll update the answer to say "carried" and not refer to "in play." Either way, trading/gifting/bribing involves carried cards; whether the item is currently equipped or not is irrelevant. – PotatoEngineer Nov 3 '14 at 20:00
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    Ah, that's the error: "Carried" means "in play, face up cards, that are not equipped and that do not affect your effective Level." If you have three one-handed swords (and no other interesting equipment), then you'll equip two of them (they will add to your Level), and carry the other one (it does not add to your level, but you don't have to drop it). I often play with a house rule that requires all unused equipment that takes slots to be equipped (else it must be given to charity; this is to encourage charity), but by the rules, you simply "carry" equipment that you can't/don't equip. – PotatoEngineer Nov 3 '14 at 20:17

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