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  1. - Top - End - #1
    Ogre in the Playground
     
    oxybe's Avatar

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    Default [4th] making Magic Items more magic and less common

    as the title states, i'm looking for advice. so to start, some background:

    i love magic items, but too much is too much and not enough is bleh.

    one thing i like about 4th ed is that you are less dependent on magic items overall, compared to 3rd ed. a weapon/implement, an armor and a neck thing, and you're done and golden. the rest is gravy.

    the issue i have, however (and this came up in 3rd, and i'm sure it will in 4th once we start climbing up in levels) is how, overtime, you collect a lot of useless weapons & armor and whatnot that no one will ever use.

    and this is magical stuff, not your footman's mass-produced longsword or hand-crafted ornate blade, but a +X magic sword of ass-whupping... where X is 2 less then the party average, and thus vendor trash.

    to use an actual quote from our 3rd ed party (we're level 15) "you can only have so many pairs [bracers of defense] until they stop being interesting or magical". we stopped caring after our 7th pair of +1's i believe.

    alternatively, i remember in pre-3rd where a group of 3rd or 4th level pcs might have a small handful of magic items amongs all of them, most being potions of cure wounds.

    and getting a +1 weapon didn't really make much difference other then bypassing the defense of some monsters (this monster can only be harmed by magic weapons/you need a +X or better weapon to harm it/ect...). no real magic them. it made your to hit better, but other then the fightery types, it didn't matter much.

    so i came up with an idea that i would like to know if something similar was tested by others:

    Inherent Magical Bonuses
    at level 3, 8, 13, 18, 23 & 28 the characters gain a "+1 inherent" bonus. nothing can raise or lower this bonus, which is added to attack rolls, damage & all defenses.

    note that for extra crit damage dice, you require a "magical" weapon.

    i've seen this idea tossed around a bit (or something similar) and wanted to know if people have been successful at this.

    Magic Item Strength based on Character
    instead of a "+X flaming longsword", or "+Y armor of awesomesauce", you have just a "Flaming Longsword" and "Armor of Awesomesauce". the exact strength of the weapon/armor will vary depending on the character's inherent bonus.

    this means that a "Flaming longsword" in the hands of a 1st level character has no real bonuses (other then the standard turns all your damage into [fire] property), acts as a +1 flaming longsword in the hands of a level 5 character, a +4 in the hands of the level 18, ect...

    this allows for characters to have their father's ancestral weapon throughout the game without having to worry about having to "upgrade" it or lug it around as it becomes less useful compared to the gear you can find/buy.

    Plot Powers/Attunement
    one thing i've heard over time is that magic weapons are now "mundane" and less "magical". now, while a sword that ignites into fire is magical as is, after selling your 10th one to help pay for upgrading your current one... well the magic looses it's luster.

    one thing that came to mind was to borrow concepts from the artifact rules. by making the item "happier" you can unlock extra abilities or new ones. to use our flaming sword for an example:

    -dipping it in a long-active volcano
    -having it blessed by a fire efreet in the City of Brass
    -slaying powerful water elementals
    -using it to burn down a temple that opposes the Sun god
    -ect...

    now the power itself could be anything, really:
    -dipping in volcano = causing a pillar of fire to rise at a given point
    -blessing by the efreet = sheaths the owner in fire, harming the enemies around him
    -kill water elementals = bonus damage against cold or water-based enemies
    -burn down temple = causing a wall of fire to ignite an area
    -ect...

    whatever is thematically appropriate for the player, GM & story.

    any thoughts on the subject?

  2. - Top - End - #2
    Dwarf in the Playground
     
    MonkGuy

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    Default Re: [4th] making Magic Items more magic and less common

    Quote Originally Posted by oxybe View Post
    and this is magical stuff, not your footman's mass-produced longsword or hand-crafted ornate blade, but a +X magic sword of ass-whupping... where X is 2 less then the party average, and thus vendor trash.
    This should happen somewhat less often in 4e, as by default, most monsters now use nonmagical gear. They get their bonuses just because they do. The exceptions would be any NPCs built by the GM who specifically use magic weapons, and that's counted into the treasure for the encounter anyway, if it's an enemy whose weapon the players are expected to obtain.

    Of course, it's still possible to reduce the amount further, and you've made a decent start. A couple of things, though.

    Inherent Magical Bonuses
    at level 3, 8, 13, 18, 23 & 28 the characters gain a "+1 inherent" bonus. nothing can raise or lower this bonus, which is added to attack rolls, damage & all defenses.
    This is key, but these levels push the bonuses back a bit further than I'd be comfortable with -- it makes the fights take longer.

    I would suggest 2, 6, 11, 16, 21, and 26, or at least 2, 7, 12, 17, 22, and 27. Not a huge change, but it will make a difference.

    note that for extra crit damage dice, you require a "magical" weapon.
    This, unfortunately, will slow the combats down quite a lot, if magical weapons are rare. You may need to adjust monster hp downward to compensate, because the rules assume that any character of level 2+ gets extra damage on a crit.

    Another option would be to grant Xd6 bonus damage on a crit (where X is equal to the character's inherent attack bonus), and have magical weapons offer d8s or better. Or you could have nonmagic weapons offer Xd4 bonus damage on a crit, which is still something.

    i've seen this idea tossed around a bit (or something similar) and wanted to know if people have been successful at this.
    Yes, with the caveat above.

    Magic Item Strength based on Character
    instead of a "+X flaming longsword", or "+Y armor of awesomesauce", you have just a "Flaming Longsword" and "Armor of Awesomesauce". the exact strength of the weapon/armor will vary depending on the character's inherent bonus.
    Makes perfect sense. I did something similar in 3e, and I believe "transfer enchantment" is now a core 4e ritual, so all you're doing here is handwaving the upkeep of casting that ritual. Not a bad thing.

    Plot Powers/Attunement
    one thing i've heard over time is that magic weapons are now "mundane" and less "magical". now, while a sword that ignites into fire is magical as is, after selling your 10th one to help pay for upgrading your current one... well the magic looses it's luster.

    one thing that came to mind was to borrow concepts from the artifact rules.
    If it's a really low-magic world, then I'd say this is the way to go. Permanent magic items are all artifacts of great power. ^_- Make sure they all have names and histories, if your players should care to investigate them. It's a lot more interesting and memorable to wield Excalibur than it is to wield "artifact-like flaming longsword" no matter what powers the latter might have.
    A Butterfly Dreaming - 4e monks and other roleplaying stuff

  3. - Top - End - #3
    Ogre in the Playground
     
    oxybe's Avatar

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    Default Re: [4th] making Magic Items more magic and less common

    the attunement is more akin to personalizing the item in some way that can affect the game rather then anything else. trust me, there are definitely "named" items/artifacts of great power but these are much power powerful when you get them then an attuned weapon, and will gain more power over a much shorter time.

    the artifacts tend to start strong but have a larger drawback if made angry. attuned weapons aren't intelligent and will have a slower and more controlled growth (ie: you cannot just go "farming" water elementals and hoping to get the sword stronger. it might, however, piss off an elder one... )

    i like the idea of making mundane weapons deal Xd4, "standard" magic items deal Xd6 while "property" magic item deal the appropriate one.

    the craft/destroy magic item, transfer properties, ect... rituals will be effectively removed.

    the world itself isn't one that's very low magic, just one that views magic as a tool, almost a tippyverse but not as mage-centric. weapons are treated like firearms, in so that while it's possible for Farmer Joe to have a longsword, a flaming longsword is most likely military issued and much harder to procure as there is no "standardized" creation method that's been found.

    i'll think more on the way home from work and after our normal game

  4. - Top - End - #4
    Ogre in the Playground
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    Default Re: [4th] making Magic Items more magic and less common

    This is a nice idea, especially since it promotes keeping a few weapons for special occasions... I like this.

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    Troll in the Playground
     
    Yakk's Avatar

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    Default Re: [4th] making Magic Items more magic and less common

    If you are looking for dead levels to add awesome bonuses, 4/8/14/18/24/28 are relatively dead (no utility power, the +1 from even levels, and a +1 to two stats bump).

    ...

    I sort of like the solution where you increase stat-ups to get most of the awesome bonus (which has the additional bonus of making skills scale closer to attack rolls, and makes a level 30 fighter as strong as a level 30 brute, etc).

    Next you steal the "expertise" bonus, and turn it into a masterwork weapon bonus. So a Heroic Masterwork weapon gives +1 to hit, a Paragon Masterwork weapon gives +2 to hit, and an Epic Masterwork weapon gives +3 to hit.

    Light armor keeps its masterwork bonus.

    Heavy Armor keeps it's masterwork bonus, and gets an awesome bonus of +1 every 5 levels of the wearer (round up).

    This gives you:
    Base high stat: +3 to +5
    Pre-change stat bump: +4 to +5 over 29 levels.
    Post-change stat bump: +10 to +11 over 29 levels.
    Pre-change weapon/implement expertise bonus: +1 to +3 over 29 levels.
    Post-change weapon/implement masterwork bonus: +1 to +3 over 29 levels.
    Pre-change light armor AC boost: +8 over 29 levels.
    Post-change light armor AC boost: +2 over 29 levels.

    Heavy armor remains unchanged -- +12 over 29 levels.

    Flaming swords become masterwork flaming swords -- the effect scales with the user's level.

    Oh, you also have to change 'secondary' use of stats on powers to be (+2+stat bonus/2) -- so if you add both strength and con to damage, you now add strength, con/2, +2 to damage.

    And in the few cases where you add +dex/2 bonus already (to hit), you'd add +1+dex bonus/4.

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    Ogre in the Playground
     
    oxybe's Avatar

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    Default Re: [4th] making Magic Items more magic and less common

    it's not that i'm looking for dead levels. those 4/14/24 "dead" levels are too far apart for my liking, and while i though about the 2/7/12/17/22/27 progression, level 2 seems too early and 4 too late for the first inherent "+". of to the testing board it seems

    as for expertise... i'm a bit torn with that one. i haven't played enough higher level 4th ed to really get a grasp on the attack/miss ratio. the numbers don't seem too off, but like i said, i haven't played enough epic or even paragon to make that decision.

    dunno much about the masterwork armor, i haven't fully though out how to implement that using the new system, since by default they require different "+"s

    one thing i really disliked is the "golf bag syndrome" for weapons & wands/stuff and would like to remove it, but not sure how to do so without seeming like a total scrooge. i would like to have the players each have a nice collection of items without the fighter looking at his henchman and going:
    FTR "oh Chadwick, pass me #2 darkwood bludgeon if you will."
    HNCH "frost or fire, your smashy-ness?"
    FTR "frost. t'is a queer troll so i'd like to try something radical this once."

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    Bugbear in the Playground
     
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    Default Re: [4th] making Magic Items more magic and less common

    There's already a variant for stuff like this in 3.5. http://www.d20srd.org/srd/variant/ma...aryWeapons.htm

    I'm going to be running a fresh low-magic homebrewed setting, where high level folks are very rare and leveling is slower. A level 5 wizard would be considered fairly skilled (and in general, D&D is set up so that anyone above level 5 is basically capable of superhuman feats physically and mentally if they specialize in something). They could create +1 armor or a +1 Thundering weapon at best, as well as a few Wondrous Magic Items, and to make it so that weapons are rarer instead of just being lower in power, the price to create them is increased, as well as the creation time, and in a world where levels are gained at a slower rate, experience costs are a kick in the pants.
    This might seem like it's very painful, but think of it this way: in a regular setting, a +2 flaming sword might not be especially impressive, but in this suggested setting, you have a legendary artifact, and while slaying a hill giant would be busy-work regularly, now you're a legendary giantslayer, and there will be women. Indeed, the women! You just have to watch out, or you might get knifed by an exotic dancer. They're nasty that way.

    Also, in what is given for NPC's in the DMG, typically they're not carrying magic weapons until around level 7 or so. They get magic armor sooner, seeing as it's much cheaper. The standard gear of a level 7 NPC fighter is:
    +1 full plate, heavy steel shield, +1 melee; mwk ranged, 2,900 gp left over, a fair amount of which should be spent on consumables.
    Last edited by Jergmo; 2009-08-04 at 01:42 AM.


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    Ogre in the Playground
     
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    Default Re: [4th] making Magic Items more magic and less common

    one concept that i though of lately for armor was "reforging" it. i was talking with a few of my group's players a few nights ago about WoW and the professions (my old char was a leatherworker) when it hit me: something like the "nethercleft leg armor" that you would stitch/forge/imbue into your armor to upgrade it.

    with enough usable bits of dragon hide, you can "upgrade" your scale armor into wyrmscale, or by having your leather armor treated by a divine being will transform it into starleather. starweave armor would be expertly-made cloth armor stitched with the hair of an angel or other divine being. while this opens the opportunity for masterwork armor at earlier levels is possible, i don't think it would be too unbalancing.

    this could be a quest in itself, as dragons probably won't allow you to harvest their hide willingly and i can't see an emissary of a deity hand out powerful or hard to come buy goodies to just anyone.

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