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Hzurr
2010-02-25, 03:14 PM
So my 4E game just hit 13th level, and the last few levels have been a bit of an odd mix of PCs as players get curious about new classes, and we've had a number of new PCs enter into the game, only to be replaced a few sessions later. Fortunately, we're finally about to get into a real plot, so we should have some slightly more regular PCs for the next while.

However, one thing that I've noticed with all of these characters, is that when they start off with standard equipment (lvl +1 , lvl +0, lvl -1 items, lvl -1 gp), they tend to load up with lower level items. Do you know how many level 3 magic items you can buy with a lvl 12 item's worth of gold?

A few different questions:

To what degree was this expected in game design?

Do you think this allows players to abuse some of the more powerful properties of lower-level items? (For example, I have yet to see a PC post 5th level that has failed to buy a pair of acrobat boots. The "stand as a minor" action has just proved to be more powerful than higher level boot items)

I've heard that the general assumption is that you typically won't use an item more than 5 levels lower than you are. Is there actually a rule about this?

Oracle_Hunter
2010-02-25, 03:43 PM
I take it your PCs are knocked down a lot? :smalltongue:

No, there's no rule against using low-level items, but in general it's kind of dumb to load up on them instead of getting, say, a nice Head-Slot item or something. I mean, for Boots, I always get Catstep Boots because of their "half falling damage" property (I love Properties) but I'd happily upgrade to Winged Boots when I get the chance.

All in all, make sure you note which powers are Encounters, which are Dailies (and keep an eye on their Daily Use Limitation!) and that none of the bonuses are stacking improperly.

I'll admit that it's a little unnerving to have such "flexible" PCs, but it doesn't disrupt my game overmuch anyhow.

Kurald Galain
2010-02-25, 04:41 PM
Do you know how many level 3 magic items you can buy with a lvl 12 item's worth of gold?
Yes, I do. In fact I wrote a guide about it :smallbiggrin:


To what degree was this expected in game design?
It would seem that it wasn't. The designers appear to assume that a +4 item is always more desirable than a +3 item - indeed, as you state, that "you typically won't use an item more than 5 levels lower than you are". But no, there is no rule about it, and a casual glance over the items in the PHB and AV1 prove it to be just plain wrong.



Do you think this allows players to abuse some of the more powerful properties of lower-level items?
Yes it does, although I wouldn't call it "abuse" per se. The majority of items printed is unimpressive to boring, as well as mediocre to just plain bad. There are a few exceptions that really stand out: for instance, in heroic and paragon tier, pretty much the only boots worth using are Acrobat's and Fencing Master's.

What the devteam overlooked, is that the "item daily usage" kludge makes items with solid properties or encounter powers much, much better than anything else. And there's only few of those, so expect them to be used by a lot of players.

Beorn080
2010-02-25, 04:48 PM
Also remember that 5 +1 items are much cheaper then 1 +5 item, and if you spread it out you can get a lot of bonuses compared to just one +5.

Colmarr
2010-02-25, 05:18 PM
Also remember that 5 +1 items are much cheaper then 1 +5 item, and if you spread it out you can get a lot of bonuses compared to just one +5.

True, but as Kurald is fond of pointing out, a +1 bonus is of relatively little benefit. It's will only change the outcome of 5% of rolls it's applied to. A +5 bonus on the other hand is a big deal.

The "problem" with low level items is not so much the bonus, it's the properties they grant (such as the acrobat boots mentioned above or the phylactery of action my level 9 cleric wears on his arms). Some properties, such as rising from prone as a minor action or getting to reroll a save once per encounter, will always be useful, no matter what level you are.

I personally, don't think it's a problem except in the hands of out-of-control optimisers, but the theoretical issue is there.

Kurald Galain
2010-02-25, 05:26 PM
True, but as Kurald is fond of pointing out, a +1 bonus is of relatively little benefit ... The "problem" with low level items is not so much the bonus, it's the properties they grant
I couldn't have said it better :smallbiggrin:


I personally, don't think it's a problem except in the hands of out-of-control optimisers, but the theoretical issue is there.
It's not usually a problem, but it may make players be less excited about the loot they find. For one, regardless of what it is, they can easily sell it for the items they actually want. For another, if they have a +2 armor with a good property, they may simply not want a +3 armor.

It is, however, quite an issue in RPGA play. There's a handful of items that are way over-represented at LFR tables. For instance, pre-nerf Vet Armor and Bloodclaw were everywhere. Now it's stuff like the aforementioned boots, and staff of ruin, and the fact that most people have clued in that resistances are very useful. It's not so much that their crazy power upstages other people, it's just that seeing the same trick over and over gets tedious.

Yakk
2010-02-25, 05:36 PM
They have enough cash to buy a single level 12 item, plus 3 items.

Those 3 items will probably be neck, weapon and armor.

That leaves head, hands, arms, waist, feet, tattoo slots empty. And heaven help them if they need a second weapon!

With at least 5 items there, the average value of their items in the other slots will be level 7. The average level, if they have no items over level 10, and no items under level 6, is also 7 -- but that isn't likely.

They probably want at least one item that is near level 10 -- which leaves them with little except for petty change to spend on the remaining slots.

So they fill the slots.

If your PCs are stocking up on arrays of wands (I have 15 different level 3 wands!), that is getting cheesy -- but if they are buying level 2 boots, or a level 3 arm slot item, that is expected and acceptable.

KillianHawkeye
2010-02-25, 05:54 PM
In the end, I think it all comes down to personal preference. Some people want whatever grants the biggest bonus to whatever it is they like to do, while others like items with multiple uses or interesting abilities, while yet others just like to get as many items as they can. I don't think it hurts the game any.

Colmarr
2010-02-25, 07:09 PM
I couldn't have said it better :smallbiggrin:

Don't go getting all high-falutin thinking you've swayed my opinion on the value of a +1 :smallsmile:

But in this particular instance, where we're discussing 5 +1s versus a single +5, you and I see eye to eye.

rayne_dragon
2010-02-25, 10:30 PM
Don't go getting all high-falutin thinking you've swayed my opinion on the value of a +1 :smallsmile:

But in this particular instance, where we're discussing 5 +1s versus a single +5, you and I see eye to eye.

Except given the costs of magic items, I believe a better comparison is 5 +4s vs a single +5. I'd rather have two +4 weapons/implements, +4 armour, +4 neck and as much useful stuff as I can buy with the leftovers than one +5 anything. Which I think demonstrates why there might be a preference for low level magic items.

Shardan
2010-02-25, 11:14 PM
certain items, despite the level, are just good. Until the acrobatic skill utility power came out, that was the only way to get stand as less than a movement action. knocked prone is a common result of a wide variety of powers so a way to solve it was much needed. especially for Melee characters. The Acrobat boots are the best example of a low level item better than the high level ones in the game. Wizards get a lot of power from the 'bag of wands' concept. Add to that there are alot of things that can give cheap +1 to a skill or very expensive +2 to a skill for the higher level version.

a level 5 for +1 version a level 15 to get +2? which is more cost effective?

I generally plan to use my N,N+1, and N-1 for weapon/implement, armor, and neck piece and money for little cheap things

Edge of Dreams
2010-02-26, 12:34 AM
This is a common occurrence in my groups games, and in fact we even increased the starting items/gold for new characters to make it 3 items of appropriate enhancement bonus based on tiers of 5 levels (instead of specific item levels, makes it less restrictive) and substantially more than the listed amount of gold pieces. This means most of our paragon tier characters have most of their slots filled, plus rituals, components, bags of holding, etc.

Picking all your items has become a little tedious with that much gold to throw around, but we also feel a lot more willing to mess around with items that may not be perfectly optimal or don't have combat value such as the Reading Glasses or buying more rituals, or a shield that fits your character's theme.

Leolo
2010-02-26, 06:15 AM
In fact i would say there are two rules regarding this problem.

First you have item slots that do limit the usage of items.
And second you have only a limited amount of item daily usages.

Both are rules that improve the value of higher level items in comparision to lower level items. (Assuming they are better on an average)

So the designers seem to have thought about this to some degree. But there are just too many individual cases that it does not really work. At least not if the players could search for the best combination of low level items and compare this against some (equally valued by the book) higher level item.

Kurald Galain
2010-02-26, 06:42 AM
First you have item slots that do limit the usage of items.
And second you have only a limited amount of item daily usages.
That's the theory, at least.

In practice, the former is dealt with through Quick Draw / Battle Harness / Disembodied Hand, and the latter is dealt with through using items with properties or encounter powers.

There are a handful of items with really good daily powers; that's a tough competition for the "average" item. For instance, compare "daily: do +5 damage on one hit" to "daily, minor action: automatically restrain one enemy (save ends)".

Leolo
2010-02-26, 08:27 AM
That's the theory, at least.

In practice, the former is dealt with through Quick Draw / Battle Harness / Disembodied Hand, and the latter is dealt with through using items with properties or encounter powers.

There are a handful of items with really good daily powers; that's a tough competition for the "average" item. For instance, compare "daily: do +5 damage on one hit" to "daily, minor action: automatically restrain one enemy (save ends)".

I would say it is not only theory. Because - if you use the things that do "bypass" the rules above you always have some costs or drawback. (sure you could use multiple weapons easily with quick draw - but it costs you a feat and will not help in any case.)

It does have some real impact. The question is if the impact is huge enough, and i believe this depends on "how often should the players change their items?".

One design goal within 4E was "Players should not throw away / sell low level items that often". Thats a intention created from situations in former editions where it is hard to please your players with low level items as loot.

I think there is a balance. The low level items are not bad - you could use them during your whole carrier without suffering to much because of this. But there are better items on higher levels.

Acrobatic boots are a good example. Sure you could stand up from prone more quickly. But you could also walk on walls, and this looks more impressive to me.

Mark Hall
2010-02-26, 01:36 PM
I don't know how others in the group are doing it, but here is what I tend towards:

My Level, Level +1, and level -1 items tend to be my Armor, Neck, and Implement of Choice (weapon, wand, whatever); these are the most important items in the game. because they govern your attack and defense, and I'll minmax a bit within there to get the best "deal"; for example, I took my current greatsword because it does double-duty as a divine implement. I don't have many Implement powers, so that's a good deal.

Then, I look at properties. I view Daily powers as a "bonus" on items with nice properties; I think my newest character only has one item with a daily power that I can use (the other is a daily power that is great for Paladins, but I don't have the multiclass feat that would let me take advantage of it). Certain low-level items (Acrobat boots; Iron Armbands of Power; GIantkind gloves if you're playing a strength character) are extremely worth it. Acrobat boots are equivalent to a 2nd level utility, for example... nice to have.

The problem comes in that, once you're there, you've got a ton of money you simply can't use. You've filled every slot with extremely useful, heroic tier items. If you're not a ritualist, then you're combing through the Wondrous Items or Boons to take care of these costs. Once my "ruling the world through boons" scheme came to an end, I went back and repurchased some of my slots with higher-level items... but I still mourn the lost properties.

What I'd like to see from Wizards, actually, is a scheme for combining multiple lower-level items into a higher-level equivalent... it would probably have the same problems as 3.x's magic item table, though, in that people would be able to min/max the hell out of it.

Kurald Galain
2010-02-26, 01:40 PM
One design goal within 4E was "Players should not throw away / sell low level items that often". Thats a intention created from situations in former editions where it is hard to please your players with low level items as loot.
The result is, then, that in 4E it is hard to please your players with high level items as loot. Because the odds are pretty good that their lower-level items are simply better.

HMS Invincible
2010-02-26, 02:53 PM
For the people who don't use more than 1 item per slot, it's very easy to please people with high end loot. You compare which is better, and then discard the weaker one.

As for everybody else, you spend the most of time pining at the adventurer's vault looking at stuff you can't get cuz the GM keeps giving out vendor trash.
The GMs usually give out randomly generated stuff which is 90% flashy with no substance.