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View Full Version : D&D 5e/Next Homebrewing a Magic Item: what level of rarity?



JakOfAllTirades
2019-09-21, 02:25 PM
I'm working on a magic bow for rangers; besides adding +1 to attack and damage rolls, when attuned by a ranger it would also be considered a spell focus and add 1 to their spell save DC.

I know this is a powerful item. The +1 bow is uncommon, the +1 spell DC is also uncommon for other spellcasters, but Rangers don't normally have access to any such item that I'm aware of. So is this rare? That would make the +2 version very rare, and +3 legendary. I'd like to know what the playgrounders think about this idea.

Zman
2019-09-21, 03:44 PM
Does its rarity matter that much? I mean 5e's rarity system is kind of a joke and has no real relevance on power. Some things that are Uncommon will break your game and other things that are Very Rare are meh. So, balancing by rarity needs some supervision anyway.

Given how rare it would be to see a magical ranger magic bow around like that, I'd put it at Very rare by that metric. By the power ranking I think you're looking for Rare would suffice.

BerzerkerUnit
2019-09-21, 06:41 PM
Itís a Rod of the Pact keeper that trades recover a slot for bow functionality. I think itís uncommon.

Breccia
2019-09-21, 11:25 PM
Itís a Rod of the Pact keeper that trades recover a slot for bow functionality. I think itís uncommon.

I respectfully disagree.

Pure spellcasting classes such as Sorcerer and Wizard have a class feature called Spellcasting Focus. The ranger does not. Unless I missed something, that means rangers can't normally use spellcasting foci, and as such, the +1 DC is actually quite strong. Also, if a +1 bow is uncommon, something purely stronger than a +1 bow needs to be higher level/more rare.

I think the +1 version has to be Rare or higher.

BerzerkerUnit
2019-09-22, 12:07 AM
I respectfully disagree.

Pure spellcasting classes such as Sorcerer and Wizard have a class feature called Spellcasting Focus. The ranger does not. Unless I missed something, that means rangers can't normally use spellcasting foci, and as such, the +1 DC is actually quite strong. Also, if a +1 bow is uncommon, something purely stronger than a +1 bow needs to be higher level/more rare.

I think the +1 version has to be Rare or higher.

Treantmonk's Temple has a video that goes into the rationale for choosing component pouch over Focus 100% of the time. While I think his reasoning is a little generous the gist is solid, a focus eats up the use of your hand, the pouch does not.

Many Ranger Spells (Alarm, Detect Poison, etc) have Material components meaning the Ranger requires a Component Pouch anyway. Both of these items are 50gp and serve exactly the same purpose. Bow being a 2 handed weapon that only occupies 1 hand 100% of the time, leaves a hand to pull components or draw arrows as needed. A common magic item, Ruby of the Warmage (also 50-100 gp) can be affixed to a weapon by any spell caster so the weapon can serve as a focus for their spells.


The +1 DC is unrelated to the Bow's Focus function and is otherwise identical to the Rod but far less valuable because the majority of Ranger spells do not have DCs, but rather enhance a ranger's attacks or serve some utility purpose even more, the quality of their spells is par but normally less useful because their spellcasting ability is usually tertiary.

While the focus and DC bump makes the whole thing distinctly better than a +1 Bow (also uncommon), the Attunement requirement and its overall impact keep it leagues below Rare items.

sandmote
2019-09-22, 01:33 AM
Also, if a +1 bow is uncommon, something purely stronger than a +1 bow needs to be higher level/more rare.

A +1 trident is also uncommon. So's a +1 trident of fish command. I admit I'm comparing the trident to a martial weapon, but I think this still makes it clear there's some space between a +1 weapon and something rare.

Breccia
2019-09-22, 07:17 AM
A +1 trident is also uncommon. So's a +1 trident of fish command.

That's a good point. I'm sticking with my original argument, but only because "+1 to spell DC" seems generally more useful than "Aquaman powers", but the lines are blurrier than I first thought and I would be fine either way.



The +1 DC is unrelated to the Bow's Focus function

Once again, I respectfully disagree. We're definitely fork-deep into the subjective omelette here, and we just prefer different fillings.

The way I read the rules, you can't benefit from the bonus of a spell focus if you can't use the spell focus. I would not expect a paladin to benefit from a wand of the war caster, for example, because they can't use a wand. The fact that they can put spell components into a leather bag isn't part of the rarity discussion -- that's just how containers work. The way I read it, wand of the war caster and rod of the pact keeper demonstrate the +1 DC is exactly part of the focus function -- a function that rangers don't seem to have. It could be a ring or a cloak or a belt, and my opinion wouldn't change.

To put it another way: if the party's rogue found chain mail +1 and said "I know I'm not proficient in chain mail, but could I keep it in my pack to get the +1 to my AC anyhow? It's not like I'm asking for the full AC boost of chain mail, just the magic bonus" I would respond "No, use armor your character is proficient with, or multiclass/feat to get the proficiency." I feel the same way here. The benefits of using an enchanted spell focus are a part of the equation, and rangers, as currently written, can't do that.

Just so we're clear, my issue revolves around "rangers specifically can't use spell foci" not "this item is too powerful as an abstract concept". If this was, say, a shield that's also a cleric/paladin holy symbol, because they can already use both, I wouldn't be making a stink about it at all, but if it was a sword that was an Eldritch Knight focus (again, something they aren't listed as having) I would.

Or if you play with the house rule "rangers can use druid foci" that's also where my objection ends.

BerzerkerUnit
2019-09-22, 09:55 AM
That's a good point. I'm sticking with my original argument, but only because "+1 to spell DC" seems generally more useful than "Aquaman powers", but the lines are blurrier than I first thought and I would be fine either way.



Once again, I respectfully disagree. We're definitely fork-deep into the subjective omelette here, and we just prefer different fillings.

The way I read the rules, you can't benefit from the bonus of a spell focus if you can't use the spell focus. I would not expect a paladin to benefit from a wand of the war caster, for example, because they can't use a wand. The fact that they can put spell components into a leather bag isn't part of the rarity discussion -- that's just how containers work. The way I read it, wand of the war caster and rod of the pact keeper demonstrate the +1 DC is exactly part of the focus function -- a function that rangers don't seem to have. It could be a ring or a cloak or a belt, and my opinion wouldn't change.

To put it another way: if the party's rogue found chain mail +1 and said "I know I'm not proficient in chain mail, but could I keep it in my pack to get the +1 to my AC anyhow? It's not like I'm asking for the full AC boost of chain mail, just the magic bonus" I would respond "No, use armor your character is proficient with, or multiclass/feat to get the proficiency." I feel the same way here. The benefits of using an enchanted spell focus are a part of the equation, and rangers, as currently written, can't do that.

Just so we're clear, my issue revolves around "rangers specifically can't use spell foci" not "this item is too powerful as an abstract concept". If this was, say, a shield that's also a cleric/paladin holy symbol, because they can already use both, I wouldn't be making a stink about it at all, but if it was a sword that was an Eldritch Knight focus (again, something they aren't listed as having) I would.

Or if you play with the house rule "rangers can use druid foci" that's also where my objection ends.

So if it didn't serve as a focus but still provided the +1 bonus to DCs you wouldn't have an issue? Or you still would? The thing about the magic armor really rat mazed me.

Breccia
2019-09-22, 10:29 AM
So if it didn't serve as a focus but still provided the +1 bonus to DCs you wouldn't have an issue? Or you still would?

My issue is the +1 to DC, which is normally something applied because of a magic focus, which rangers can't use. The bow acting as a focus is a much more minor issue to me, because grabbing a material component from a belt pouch in one hand and holding the bow with the other seems completely fine to me.

Maybe this will work better: can an Eldritch Knight use a wand of the war caster? Because the PHB desc does not say they can use wand as a focus, unlike wizards and sorcerers, my answer is "no". Therefore they cannot benefit from the wand's bonus to spell attack rolls. The bow is granting a bonus that rangers are blocked from by the standard rules. Yes magic items can bypass rules like that, yes this item is a perfectly valid one, no I don't think such a "rule break" is an uncommon item. I think it has to be higher rarity to be fair.

BerzerkerUnit
2019-09-22, 02:39 PM
My issue is the +1 to DC, which is normally something applied because of a magic focus, which rangers can't use. The bow acting as a focus is a much more minor issue to me, because grabbing a material component from a belt pouch in one hand and holding the bow with the other seems completely fine to me.

Maybe this will work better: can an Eldritch Knight use a wand of the war caster? Because the PHB desc does not say they can use wand as a focus, unlike wizards and sorcerers, my answer is "no". Therefore they cannot benefit from the wand's bonus to spell attack rolls. The bow is granting a bonus that rangers are blocked from by the standard rules. Yes magic items can bypass rules like that, yes this item is a perfectly valid one, no I don't think such a "rule break" is an uncommon item. I think it has to be higher rarity to be fair.

Alright, Iím seeing your reasoning a little more clearly. I disagree with it and Iíll explain why.

The Staff of Power. Is a staff, but makes no mention of being allowed to be used as a focus, it clearly can be, it can also be used as a magic quarterstaff. In 30 years of playing Iíve never seen a DM rule that a Wizard staff canít be used to just cudgel someone as a quarterstaff, though I think the Focus concept wasnít formally introduced and normalized until 4th edition.

And yet the Staff focus has no listed damage or reach and costs 5gp while a regular quarterstaff which does have those mechanical rules is 2 sp.

Rules as written a spellfocus staff would be an improvised weapon and a regular quarterstaff canít be used as a focus.

You have inferred that save DC bonuses are tied to focus items. I could be wrong, but I donít believe the Rod of the Pact Keeper (the item I think parallelís most closely) functions as an actual focus RAW because it doesnít explicitly say it does and, as established RE: staves not every staff = staff for casting.

Itís not an unreasonable inference, but it is, in ly opinion, unnecessarily restrictive in light of the fact the problem can be ignored for 50gp, a negligible 1 time investment, whether you buy a component pouch or a Ruby of the War Mage (which explicitly turns an item into a focus but does not require a focus feature, merely the ability to cast spells to employ).

But weíre into a completely subjective and academic distinction at this point.

You feel itís a hard rare but can see going the other way.
I feel itís uncommon.

Rarity is only relevant to the player of thereís some kind of rarity limit tied to tier. As a +1 weapon for a primarily martial class itís clearly tier 2, some DMs might balk at the thought of a level 5 pc having a Rare item.

Best of luck to the DM, I wouldnít worry about the rarity, I think consensus is it isnít overpowered.

Bjarkmundur
2019-09-22, 03:11 PM
So its wand of the war mage, +1 magic weapon and half a luckstone?
Just add the cost of those items together, thats a pretty simple way to do it, yeah?

Breccia
2019-09-22, 05:54 PM
You have inferred that save DC bonuses are tied to focus items.

Magical ones, yes. The only exception I can think of is the robe of the archmage, which is legendary, and probably not the best for this context. (It also requires attunement by an arcane spellcaster, who can use a focus)

Now you mention the rod of the pact keeper, and the staff of power. Seeing as how a rod and a staff are both listed as arcane foci, the warlock can clearly use the rod of the pact keeper as their focus, and the wizard can clearly use the staff of power as theirs, because both classes allow the casters to use arcane foci. Hell, the wizard could even use the rod if they needed to, they just couldn't use the warlocky benefits -- it would just be a focus. Considering a normal arcane focus is nonmagical, the wizard wouldn't even need to attune to it (which is good news, because they can't do that) to use that benefit. Their class says they can use a rod as a focus. Now, the staff of power spells out that it can be used as a magic weapon, with special benefits, but all other magic staves you can refer to Chapter 7 where it says "can be used as a quarterstaff unless it says otherwise". You're probably right about the standard nonmagical focus, both that (a) in the rules it isn't a weapon and (b) everyone just assumes it is anyhow.

I mean, I guess you could assume someone made a rod of the pact keeper or a staff of power that wasn't a focus...despite "rod" and "staff" being arcane foci and not that expensive compared to the thousands of gpv of the item, and despite the items requiring attunement by a spellcaster who can use a rod/staff as a focus. You could assume that, but it would require a very specific explanation. I, personally, would not assume that. I would assume that, when something is made for an arcane spellcaster and says "rod" or "staff" it's a focus. But I believe it's not explicitly written out for the same reason chainmail +1, mithral chainmail, and adamantium chainmail don't have "uses the same proficiency as normal chainmail" written out, despite what one would normally assume about mithral chainmail from previous editions.

And back to my original point: none of the above changes that wizards and warlocks have the ability to use a focus, and as such, rod of the pact keeper, wand of the war caster, etc. The fact that some of them are weapons too doesn't change that. A cleric can't do that, but if they get a talisman of pure good, they can use it instead. There are a variety of magic items that say they can be used to improve the spells cast by the user, and again with the exception of the robe of the archmage, they all seem to be items of the class's listed foci. The robe is legendary and it can't exactly get any more rare than that. A ranger can't use any of those. A ranger can't use a focus. Something that grants that bonus normally associated with a spellcasting focus, in my subjective opinion, needs to be more rare than the uncommon rarity that a +1 bow was going to be anyhow.

Or you could just say "rangers can use druid foci" and I'm 100% satisfied with uncommon.

The good news? All of this is likely irrelevant. As you and others have said, rarity is a general benchmark, but the DM should put items in their campaign that are called for. Random magic tables are good for quick results, but this bow was clearly specially designed for a ranger in their group. The rarity is pretty low importance in this context. I'm making my argument for the item when it wanders out of his campaign and others want to use it, and again, by the standard rules I'm not yet convinced uncommon fits, because the benefit of +1 save DC to a ranger is fairly strong -- they can't get that from any other item in the core rules.

JakOfAllTirades
2019-09-22, 07:38 PM
So its wand of the war mage, +1 magic weapon and half a luckstone?
Just add the cost of those items together, thats a pretty simple way to do it, yeah?

No, it doesn't have any features of the luckstone. And only one feature of wand of the war mage.

sandmote
2019-09-23, 10:16 AM
My issue is the +1 to DC, which is normally something applied because of a magic focus, which rangers can't use. Ranger's can't use a druid focus because it would be a trap option. They can't wear their focus like a cleric or paladin which means only a component pouch is usable with a bow. The Player's Handbook doesn't say "rangers can use druid foci," so the beastmaster who hasn't played before doesn't get confused and decide to try using one instead of a component pouch. The restriction isn't even for mechanical purposes; it's for psychological ones.


Something that grants that bonus normally associated with a spellcasting focus, in my subjective opinion, needs to be more rare than the uncommon rarity that a +1 bow was going to be anyhow.

Or you could just say "rangers can use druid foci" and I'm 100% satisfied with uncommon.

... I'm making my argument for the item when it wanders out of his campaign and others want to use it, and again, by the standard rules I'm not yet convinced uncommon fits, because the benefit of +1 save DC to a ranger is fairly strong -- they can't get that from any other item in the core rules. I fail to see how a house ruling saying "oh by the way you have this weaker option you'll never use," changes anything about the item's usefulness. I'd rather rangers be able to use druid foci and have the book say so right next to a little sticky reading "tip: you can use a component pouch with a bow." But it doesn't affect the power of a bow rangers can use as a focus.

You've got three effects:
A +1 weapon
A Ruby of the Warmage you can't move
+1 to your Save DC

If it were a one handed weapon that a druid, sorcerer, warlock, or wizard can use, sure that's definitely rare (it's not like anyone follows the somatic spell rules). A two handed weapon for a ranger though? Attunement to boost your save DC bonus doesn't bump it up a rarity. After all, bounded accuracy makes a +2 bonus significantly better than a +1 bonus.


No, it doesn't have any features of the luckstone. And only one feature of wand of the war mage. If anything it's the inverse of half a luckstone: the enemy needs another +1 to its saves, instead of you getting a +1 to yours.