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View Full Version : [3.5] Embracing the Coatrack: Items that are as good as you are



Zaq
2010-07-04, 03:28 AM
So, I had a thought. There's a lot of (often justified) complaining about the fact that in 3.5 (especially at higher levels), if you're not some variety of caster, you basically become a coatrack for your magical bling. This is, for good or for ill, a very real part of the 3.5 system.

That said, I think that there's a way to approach this that might actually make it into a good thing, or at least into a not-terrible thing. The default assumption in 3.5 is that combat is a very heavy part of the game. While it's entirely possible to run a deep political intrigue-based campaign, or a very sneaky campaign in which combat only happens if you fail and get caught, or whatever, 3.5 is not, by default, especially suited for these things. It's assumed that you're going to be fighting things on a fairly regular basis, and a character that can't contribute in combat had better have a damn good reason for staying in the party.

Both of these are just basic facts about the 3.5 system. I'm not saying that they're automatically good, and a lot of people have many justified complaints about one aspect or another that I've mentioned. But what if we played the two off of each other?

I think that it's possible for a character to exist who contributes to combat almost solely through his or her items. I believe that it would be worthwhile to have a discussion about (and maybe even compile a list of) items like this which can make a character's standard actions worthwhile, pretty much no matter what. Why is this a good thing? Basically, this could, when handled with finesse, take some of the pressure off of a character who wants to de-emphasize what they do in combat. Your archetypical skillmonkey, for example, who cares more about what happens outside of combat than what happens in it... or anyone else who wants the opportunity to focus more on what happens outside of combat but still contribute after initiative is rolled. We embrace the fact that your items often define what you're capable of, and let the items do the fighting, while the character can shine in other ways. A low-level example would be a rogue focused on social skills and other out-of-combat tricks who uses caltrops and alchemist's fire to contribute in combat. Could anyone at all do that? Sure, pretty much, but the point is that the character is at least doing something, letting them spend more of their resources on what they really want to do. This only increases in intensity as magic becomes more freely available.

So, at the simplest level, I'm seeing a division between items that require UMD and items that anyone can use. UMD is a fantastic skill (it's been said that it's not really a skill so much as a full class feature in disguise), but there's more to what I'm talking about here than just a basket full of scrolls or a really nice staff.

I'll get the ball rolling.

-There are a few minimal-effort-required items that create summon-like effects, such as MIC's Amber Amulet of Vermin or the DMG's Bag of Tricks (especially the higher-level ones). The Amber Amulet can be available as early as level 2 or 3, though a good Bag of Tricks probably will have to wait until somewhat later.

-The Rod of Viscid Globs, from MIC, is great for anyone who could use a little ranged battlefield control in their lives, especially given that it's a splash effect. A DC 15 Reflex save isn't that hard to make, but as any Dragonfire Adept will tell you, spreading an Entangle effect around your enemies is definitely worth considering.

-At a much higher level (due to its price tag), the Ring of Telekinesis (from the DMG) can be used very well by a player with some creativity. The caster level isn't that great, but still, telekinesis at-will is a pretty decent effect.

I repeat, yes, pretty much anyone can use these things, which is the point. They work more or less regardless of the character. Also, UMD is a great skill, but it should not be assumed. That said, what else do you like to use? What are some items that can contribute in combat even if their owner usually cannot, and why do you like them?

PId6
2010-07-04, 04:13 AM
Hammersphere (MIC): Once per day lets you use Spiritual Weapon, attacking each round for 3d6 at your base attack bonus + Wis for 7 rounds. The damage is quite decent for something that costs only 1,500 gp, and you can activate multiple ones in subsequent rounds and have them all attack once per round.

Glyph Seal/Greater (MIC): A good way for casters to share some of their spells with their non-casting allies. Pop the spell, activate it, and then trigger the "trap" when you want that nice buff spell or whatever. Extremely cheap, the greater version costing only 4,000 gp and working on any spell of 5th level or higher.

Icy Strand of the North (MIC): Limited use, but cheap (2,500 gp) and potentially useful. Anyone can use it to create Sleet Storms and Ice Storms, without needing UMD to activate it. The spells make for decent battlefield control and minor damage. Scrolls/wands are probably superior if UMD is available though.

Dust of Cheesing and Choking bears mentioning.

Alleine
2010-07-04, 04:35 AM
Savage Species has a particularly broken offensive item. Aboleth mucus, for about 50 gp and a ranged attack you can force a DC 20 fort save or the creature starts drowning for several hours. Pretty much a guaranteed kill at low levels.

Oriental adventures has an eggshell grenade full of dust that blinds an enemy for 1d4 rounds on a ranged touch attack. Range is only 5 feet, but its a pretty nasty and unavoidable effect.

Oslecamo
2010-07-04, 05:16 AM
Oriental adventures has an eggshell grenade full of dust that blinds an enemy for 1d4 rounds on a ranged touch attack. Range is only 5 feet, but its a pretty nasty and unavoidable effect.

Wow, can't believe I missed that nifty item despite having the book for so long! Thanks! Excellent for weak mooks to hinder the party!

Vizzerdrix
2010-07-04, 06:30 AM
Constructs. Sure they ain't great, but each one is another action for your side.

Fouredged Sword
2010-07-04, 07:25 AM
I think the baseclass should be warlock for UMD and the ability to make magic items. Best bet is to take levels levels of efigy master and craft efigy birds to throw abolith mucus, eggshell grenages, and dust of cheeze.

Or youknow, the artificer class. Kinda the point of the thing really.

AvatarZero
2010-07-04, 07:40 AM
Tanglefoot bags? They're comparable to a fourth level spell, specifically the fourth level spell Enervation, and they're only 50gp (a fourth level scroll costs 700gp).


I donít want my players to agonize over which is better: the power of blackest necromancy or a bag full of glue?

http://www.wizards.com/default.asp?x=dnd/dd/20060120a

2xMachina
2010-07-04, 07:50 AM
Collar of Perpetual attendance. Unseen Servant at will.

Have it drop stuff all around.
Caltrops: Damage and slow down.
Marbles: Balance check or stop dead.
Oil flask: Add fire attack and it becomes alchemist fire.

BobVosh
2010-07-04, 08:06 AM
Any and all of the feather tokens. Especially tree, and boat. Windfan. Necklace of adaptation. Belt of healing, belt of battle. Although battle is slightly broken depending on the optimization of the party.

Dust of disappearance. Actually all the dust, imo. Especially the cursed one that is so stupidly powerful.

Zaq
2010-07-04, 01:29 PM
I think the baseclass should be warlock for UMD and the ability to make magic items. Best bet is to take levels levels of efigy master and craft efigy birds to throw abolith mucus, eggshell grenages, and dust of cheeze.

Or youknow, the artificer class. Kinda the point of the thing really.

Actually, I had envisioned this as being split into two categories:

1) Stuff a Commoner (http://www.d20srd.org/srd/npcClasses/commoner.htm) can use.
2) Stuff an Expert (http://www.d20srd.org/srd/npcClasses/expert.htm) can use.

The whole point is that these items should work on classes and characters who don't necessarily have useful abilities and/or UMD. Basically, I'm looking at items that can help out someone who is not guaranteed to have any useful abilities (the Commoner list), or items that can help out someone who has UMD and a few specialized skills (the Expert list)... and to be honest, I'm more interested in the Commoner list, since it's no secret how damn good UMD is.

Remember, we're embracing the fact that you are often as good as your items, using that to free us up for slightly less combat-focused characters and builds.

I just found the Thorn Pouch, from (where else?) the MIC. It's one of those 5 charge/day items, with 1 charge giving you Entangle, (http://www.d20srd.org/srd/spells/entangle.htm) 3 charges giving you Spike Growth, (http://www.d20srd.org/srd/spells/spikeGrowth.htm) and 5 charges giving you the fantastic Wall of Thorns. (http://www.d20srd.org/srd/spells/wallOfThorns.htm) There's a one-round delay, but it's interestingly only a swift action (well, swift + free) to activate. At 4,400 gp, it's quite affordable... and at mid-to-high levels, you can even justify buying two or three, because the Druid battlefield control spells are that good.