Combat vs. Non-Combat Treasure

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This is something that has been on my mind for awhile. The difference between combat treasure and non-combat treasure.

Definition of terms: Combat treasure includes items that directly result in either damage or survivability while in a combat encounter. Such items increase accuracy, damage, defenses, or enable tactical options unavailable without said items. Examples include, of course, magic arms and armor, but also gear that enable shifting as minor actions, teleportation, or increased efficacy in combat in ANY way.

Non-combat treasure covers, naturally, everything else. Things that enable you to circumvent the rules but don't necessarily aid you in combat. Things that allow you to disguise yourself, carry more weight, or even mundane gear like castles or towers.

The question that I ask myself, is should these 2 types of treasure be included in the same "bundle"? Do non-combat treasures have the same degree of worth as combat treasure?

I don't think they have the same relative worth. Give a player a finite amount of gold to spend and let them loose in the character builder and what 3 items are they most like to buy first? Magic weapon, magic armor, neck slot. Combat worthy gear that will help them win fights (and thus collect more gear). The priorties to me are clear.

So, should we, as a communty of DMs and players, track these types of rewards seperately? Should we continue to reward Handy Haversacks instead of magic swords, or should we instead reward the haversack in addition to the magic sword, because one increases a players fun in combat while the other perhaps allows him or her to circumnavigate the rules in some way?
I_Roll_20s @twitter. Not always SFW. I may prefer 4e, but I will play and enjoy almost any edition, and indeed almost any table top RPG, with my friends. Down with Edition Wars. Shut up and roll your dice. :P
We have altered the parcel system just a little bit in a manner that reflects this conversation.

First, we have three standard items: Neck, Armor, Primary Weapon/Implement/Symbol. Every other level (the even ones), our entire party "upgrades" one of these three items (adding a +1) in rotation, so that all three end up being one 'plus' higher every six levels. We do NOT worry about the actual level of the specific items. If the barbarian wants marauders hide, he has marauder's hide.

We also submit wish lists to the DM, restricting those lists to items other than the default three. We tend to fill that list with slotted items, but occasionally slotless items (shards, for example) end up on the list.

The number of magic items we "should" have awarded at every level (based on the parcel system) is "spoken for" by our defaults. The formula is (party size minus one) items per level, or ([2 x party size] minus two) every two levels. Because we have (party size) items already assigned every two levels, this leaves us with (party size minus two) items for the DM to hand out.

Our DM then fills half the parcel item slots (rounded up) with wish list entries and the remainder with wondrous items of his choosing.

Because we have a large group (eight PC players in addition to the DM), this gives us a fair amount of variety. It doesn't mean all of the DM-assigned items are combatless (we just got the amber monkeys in our last delve), but it does give us a fair amount of non-combat utility and flavor items. Among our non-combat items, we now have a set of bridles for enhancing phantom steeds and a feather boat, both of which we have made ample use.
Here are the PHB essentia, in my opinion:
  • Three Basic Rules (p 11)
  • Power Types and Usage (p 54)
  • Skills (p178-179)
  • Feats (p 192)
  • Rest and Recovery (p 263)
  • All of Chapter 9 [Combat] (p 264-295)
A player needs to read the sections for building his or her character -- race, class, powers, feats, equipment, etc. But those are PC-specific. The above list is for everyone, regardless of the race or class or build or concept they are playing.
This is something that has been on my mind for awhile. The difference between combat treasure and non-combat treasure.

Definition of terms: Combat treasure includes items that directly result in either damage or survivability while in a combat encounter. Such items increase accuracy, damage, defenses, or enable tactical options unavailable without said items. Examples include, of course, magic arms and armor, but also gear that enable shifting as minor actions, teleportation, or increased efficacy in combat in ANY way.

Non-combat treasure covers, naturally, everything else. Things that enable you to circumvent the rules but don't necessarily aid you in combat. Things that allow you to disguise yourself, carry more weight, or even mundane gear like castles or towers.

The question that I ask myself, is should these 2 types of treasure be included in the same "bundle"? Do non-combat treasures have the same degree of worth as combat treasure?

I don't think they have the same relative worth. Give a player a finite amount of gold to spend and let them loose in the character builder and what 3 items are they most like to buy first? Magic weapon, magic armor, neck slot. Combat worthy gear that will help them win fights (and thus collect more gear). The priorties to me are clear.

So, should we, as a communty of DMs and players, track these types of rewards seperately? Should we continue to reward Handy Haversacks instead of magic swords, or should we instead reward the haversack in addition to the magic sword, because one increases a players fun in combat while the other perhaps allows him or her to circumnavigate the rules in some way?



First off, most of the magic items which aren't armor/weapon/neck are still useful in combat. About 10% of them are primarily useful outside of combat.

Over a level, a typically party of five will gain four magic items. Characters can expect to replace/upgrade their +'d items (armor, weapon/implement, neck slot) about every five levels. Thus, over five levels, the party, receiving 20 items, can expect to be able to replace everyone's +'d items, and still have one non-+'d item per character. They can also get many of the useful lower-level items by trading in their old +'d items.
With the economics of the game, if you let someone start a character at, say, 12th level, they may take a 13th level wand, 12th level amulet, and 11th level armor, but they have enough money to fill five other slots with 5th level or so items, and they usually will.
So, should we, as a communty of DMs and players, track these types of rewards seperately?

Would one suggest tracking combat/non-combat feats, powers and skills separately too?