Dragon 391 - Bazaar of the Bizarre: Grifnar's Arms

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I enjoyed the format of this article.  Usually, in DDI articles and D&D books, my eyes glaze over and I can't read all the individual descriptions of magic items (and powers, feats, etc).  But this new format had me reading all of the item descriptions and chuckling at Grifnar's sales pitches.

I loved the sales pitch thing. Gives a lot more flavour to the items, and helps give ideas to stock a magic item shop in the game with them
I really enjoyed the flavor formatting in this article, as well as in all the monster manuals and creature guides. I've read more of the D&D books cover to cover since the added flavor was added. Keep up the good work.
I enjoyed the sales-pitch thing.  I ... have some issues with some of the items, but the presentation was fun.

"Nice assumptions. Completely wrong assumptions, but by jove if being incorrect stopped people from making idiotic statements, we wouldn't have modern internet subculture." Kerrus
Practical gameplay runs by neither RAW or RAI, but rather "A Compromise Between The Gist Of The Rule As I Recall Getting The Impression Of It That One Time I Read It And What Jerry Says He Remembers, Whatever, We'll Look It Up Later If Any Of Us Still Give A Damn." Erachima

I like the fluff and format, but what really struck me was that the weapons weren't as generic, to put it politely, as I might have expected from common ones. The fact that they all have properties that are triggered at key moments makes them seem more character-defining than a simple +1 whatever. I have a feeling that item design is benefiting from the added clarity the common/uncommon/rare matrix provides.
...and that's the news from Lake 4th Edition, where the Gnomes are strong, the Half-Orcs are good-looking, and all the PCs are above average.
I enjoyed the sales-pitch thing.  I ... have some issues with some of the items, but the presentation was fun.

I agree 100%

Though I do not fully back all the items listed I am glad more common items are being thrown out quickly for the players to use.

Also I loved the format of the article and it gave me some ideas to make shopping more memorable in my game.

Add one dwarven shop keeper to my list of favorite NPC Shopkeeper personalities!
I too usually glaze over the description text only focusing on the text after finding a fitting item for my PCs but this was a fun read. Nice to weave a quick NPC into the mix its like getting a buy one get one free sale.

Constructive Criticsm
As far as the items, some very situational properties. Its tuff on player's especially at higher levels with so many different items, remembering which Items get bonuses to certain monsters or what conditions trigger them. Its a thin line between making an item memorable and making it usable. I would caution the over use of this.

I picked up the Rules Compendium and notices the change in Treaure Parcels. I plan to implement it as I think it will be easier on the DM then the current method of trying to figure out who gets what at which level or randomly throwing out items etc. Now for my question is there any plan to update the previously published material with Common, Uncommon, Rare for use with this system? I must admit if there was announcement I have overlooked it.
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I enjoyed the article, but there's one thing that I think desperately needs to be fixed.
The enhancement bonus is wrong for every level except for the first level that a given item is used for.
I LOVE the format... like many others I have been excited over Dragon articles in the past, only to feel let down after I started reading them due to boring prose.  

As far as the items themselves, my first impulse is that I leke them a lot.  Like AlxandraErin I feel they give each weapon a nice unique flavour.  Also, because they are common and have interesting properties (I always choose properties or encounter powers over dailies) a walking arsenal could have many tricks in his bag without being over-powered.

As to those who don't like the situational bonus properties, what would you suggest instead, without making common items too powerful?

Keep in mind that players should have a few uncommon items and 1 rare/tier (assuming a quite powerful and defining item).  I think these do the trick quite nicely.

Good work, and thanks for listening! 
The format is most excellent. In-char RP is perfectly appropriate. I'd love to see more crunch articles in this type format. If I don't want the RP, the item blocks make it easy to find the important info.

Several of the items are excellent. While I'm not sure what common means yet, I suspect that these items blur things a bit. Nevertheless, there are some useful items that won't make things overly complex.

Flail of the Winds promises to make fights with the Foamgatherer in my campaign somewhat interesting. Some of the items have 'always on' effects that aren't really 'always on'. 'Whenever you...' and 'During...' phrases are effectively conditional effects that the player has to keep up with. I'm not sure what the goal of 'common items' is, but I'd love to see a reduction in complexity.

Also, I'm used to PDF articles. In fact, I rather like them. Don't do away with them. Instead, give me fluffy text in a publishable-quality PDF, like you usually do.

Seriously... look at the item bonuses. The bonuses don't match the level: +2 is level 18, but +3 is level 8. This is a web page, quick update it before anybody wakes up and sees it. 
I like it.

kinda funny that the mace could work with a mace rogue from MP2.

I assume that monthly complications will still be posted in a PDF format?
These magic items feel very old school to me. And I love it.  

Weapons with properties always feel more "real" to me. Probably because I imagine magical devices always on, and not shooting out bursts of magic like most of the pre-essential magic items do.
I enjoyed the format and the addition of more fluff/RP to what would normally be just a stack of stats. With that said though, I'd prefer tosee it in downloadable PDF format than then web format.
khaalis: I agreed it must be made into a pdf at the end of the month or I will not be pleased.
I really like the format. I am of the type that usually skips flavor text to go to the meat of an article, but I have to admit I truly enjoyed reading the description of the shop, and the dwarf's sales pitch for each weapon. For what it's worth, I skipped buying Adventurer's Vault 2, but if the upcoming item book (Mordenkainen's Magnificent Emporium?) is anything like this, I'll get it without blinking.

As an aside, it doesn't hurt that the selection of items is actually quite good, with lots of interesting stuff that I'd like to pick for my characters. My party could easily sink all its money in that shop. 

I have a slight balance concern with one item, which I'll comment on the errata forum
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+1 for sales pitch format love. Great idea, keep it up!

EDIT: I do miss the pdf, tho.

Makes you feel as you are in the shop so is fun to read.
The items are interesting, its good to see items that add a little flavour even when classed as common and not to powerful.
I also tend to go for items that do not have daily powers, but have encounter powers or extra properties.


To be or not to be.......Bill couldn't decide if he like the idea of being a Bard or possibly a Warlord or maybe a Spell singer........
I quite enjoyed the "colour" text and Grifnar's sale's pitches( they could so effortlessly be dropped into general play by some haggling merchant)Laughing

But like the other worthy folk have already mentioned please fix the item bonuses they are currently not matching the item levels ......... or some other elf has cast an additional spell which addles Grifnar's mind, not just his coat of arms  Tongue out

Still, I would prefer to continue seeing articles in easy to download .pdf format.
Meh, I just looked through the items and skipped the sales pitch. *shrugs*

...And I have a feeling that the designers aren't all on the same page about what the rarities mean, considering the Chieftain's Weapon is exactly the sort of "useful forever at +1 enhancement" enchantment that a restriction on what you could freely buy/make was invented to deal with.

Actually item rarity is meant to handle item dailies(by making it impossible for a party to craft any such items) and complex items(although what the definition of complex is, I'm not sure). Items that give static bonuses are pretty much the definition of what a common item is.
I love the RP potential of this. My party is going to Hammerfast next month and this guy is going to be there for sure. They love to haggle and I'm going to be turning Grifnar up to 11. I love the descriptions of each weapon. Adds background to each weapon, makes something common feel special. I'd love to see more articles like this in the future.

Concern:  Compared to the situational properties of the other weapons, Chieftain's Weapon and Shielding Blade seem a lot more powerful. A constant +1 to AC is HUGE, no matter what level you're on. Similarly, the warlords I've known have spammed their attack granting powers heavily so a +1 to those is also HUGE. I'd take these two over many of the uncommon weapons.

As has been mentioned, the enhancement bonuses do not match up with level. This should be fixed ASAP before you confuse the heck out of all those new kids buying essentials and logging on for the first time.

Final thought: Gotta be PDF, its the superior format. Please don't put Dragon/Dungeon in non-PDF format.
I really don't get the new items.  You can make a sword that always gives you a +1 to AC but you can't make one with a daily power that gives you +1 to AC for a turn?  You can make an axe that deals extra damage to constructs but you can't make gauntlets that deal extra damage to bloodied creatures?

So Anoited Mace:

"Property: You gain...
Property: Whenever you reduce an enemy to 0 or fewer hit points with this weapon, a bloodied ally of your choice within 5 squares of you ..."

is common while 

Theoretical Mace:

"Power (at-will, free): Trigger: You reduce an enemy to 0 or fewer hit points with this weapon.  Effect: A bloodied ally of your choice within 5 squares of you..."

is uncommon and

Mythic Mace:

 "Property: You gain...
"Power (at-will, free): Trigger: You reduce an enemy to 0 or fewer hit points with this weapon.  Effect: A bloodied ally of your choice within 5 squares of you..."

would be rare? I'm really not grokking this new system.
The presentation was fine. I didn't read through the in-character pitch until after I had looked over the items' mechanics, but it didn't get in the way.

As others have noted, my main issues were the enhancement bonuses not matching up and the power of the Chieftain's Weapon as something stored in the bag of holding until needed. The Shielding Blade is almost certainly weaker than a Rhythm Blade for most people, so it didn't set off any danger bells.
A few of the items (Axe of Sundering, Chieftan's Weapon and Flail of Winds) are really useful commons. The rest of them have little issues here and there that make them come up short in comparison. Half Credit on the article.

Also, why no PDF? It's a whole week before the compiled...
I'm still not buying into the rarity system yet. I will wait until I see more to pass final judgment but...

I am always cool with fluff. There is nothing new about this article. Mike is just doing what they already realized they needed to do for all D&D products, a mix between fluff and crunch. Recent books have gone that route and we've been praising them for it. I assumed this method was already the status quo at this point. Most of us love fluff as much as we love crunch. Keep it up.

For those who want PDFs, I agree. Until WOTC does it you can create them on your own.

1) Download CutePDF Writer (free, safe). www.cutepdf.com/products/cutepdf/writer....

2) Install CutePDF Writer.

3) On the article you want to see as a PDF, click the Printer Friendly link at the bottom.

4) Hit Print. When the Print screen comes up change the pull down at the top from your normal printer to CutePDF Writer. Proceed.

5) It will convert the webpage to PDF and then ask you to name it and where you want to save it.

Done. You now have a PDF copy of the article.

I actually do this all the time myself. It's an easy way to save webpages without a lot of hassle.
Love the added fluff in this article, most enjoyable article I've read in a long time. I laughed out loud at the raider's crossbow description, heheh, yes elves should fight at a distance. Plus the items seem quite usable. Great work, more of this!
I like the article. Simple as that. All those items have a good and useful property and are spread over the 5 levels more or less as expected.

The fluff behind is what you need to make the world more than connected dungeons... it is nice to have some more or less read aloud texts when interavting with the PCs
I've linked to this thread as the official discussion thread for the article.  If you create your own discussion thread, thats wonderful.  It shows a lot of excitement for the article.  But please try to create threads using the standard format for a Discussion Thread.  Thank you.

DnDi_Large.pngDragon 391
Bazaar of the Bizarre: Grifnar's Arms

by Mike Mearls

A trapdoor leads down to a storage chamber where Grifnar keeps his wares on display. His 'showroom' is in the basement because it's more secure and stays cooler than the rest of the shop. The dwarf crafts mundane items and common magical weapons of up to 10th level.

Talk about this Article here.

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I like this format.

One item for correction before the issue compilation: The Raider's Crossbow currently lists as Levels 3+ at the top of the item, then shows the costs and levels for the Level 5+ bands in the stat block of the item. Which level(s) should this one be?
I really enjoyed the sales pitch angle.  This and the essentials Assassin article really brought this month up in quality, though the article I was looking forward to, Staff Fighters, brought it down strong beforehand, and would really have benefited from being more universally applicable to characters that use staves as weapons instead of a narrow band of essentials characters. 
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This was a great article.  It gave us 3 things... an interesting location, an interesting NPC, and some magic items.  I plan on putting them all in my game.
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I have to admit, I greatly enjoyed reading the sales pitches to myself in a voice akin to Oliver Reed's depiction of Vulcan in The Adventures of Baron Munchausen (see www.youtube.com/watch?v=RD6DVYM8ktc).

As for the items themselves, judgement reserved at the moment, although I do have some concern about whether these common items are better than some items that are now uncommon.
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I'm still waiting to hear if uncommon items can be upgraded via Enchant Magic Item ritual. Otherwise one uncommon weapon, cloak, or set of armor takes up six of the presumably nine uncommon magic items a character can expect over an adventuring career.

Additionally, the system will remain unusable until they drastically increase the total number of commons available and preferable update the rarity existing items list in a more comprehensive wat than "all items are uncommon until otherwise noted". 
I really enjoyed the sales pitch and the items look great, so much so that my SoW warlord's player is 'Wow-ing' over it. I just have issues with the enhancement bonuses being incorrect for the items. I will surely be incorperating them in my game soon.
Hey all,

I'm glad people like the sales pitch approach. It made the article more fun to write, and I think that came through in the final product.

@akschmid: Common items are definitely a priority. The next few articles like this will focus on them. You can also expect that rare and uncommon items will be open to upgrades.

A few people asked why these items are common, and where the line rests between common, uncommon, and rare. One thing to keep in mind is that the rarity scheme opens up enough new design space that prior items aren't always the best guide.

Common items look a lot like the ones in this article. They have one feature that is meant to be easy to track. Ideally, that property is something that you can easily note on your power cards or character sheet. If there's a trigger, it's relatively easy to remember.

Dropping a foe to 0 or less is probably about as complex a trigger as you'll see. The chieftain's spear is a little more complex, but it's clearly aimed at the warlord. If you're playing that class, it's something you do often enough that it should be easy to track or note.

Uncommon and rare stuff introduces more complexity, either in triggers, powers, or magnitude of effect. I think the best way to illustrate this is to show you an example. I'll use the shielding blade:

Common Shielding Blade: The +1 shield bonus to AC is easy to track. You just adjust your AC and you're done. It's very useful, but it's also fairly corner case. Characters who need to wield and implement and a weapon or those using two-handed weapons get the most use out of it. There are also other ways to get a shield bonus to AC while dual wielding or using a two hander.

Uncommon "Shielding Blade": Taking the same basic idea (the theoretical actual item would not be called a shielding blade), the uncommon version would have a shield bonus to AC along with an encounter power that allows an opportunity attack against a foe that attacks you. It could also extend the defense bonus to Reflex.

Rare "Shielding Blade": This one has the defense bonus, something similar to the opportunity attack as an encounter power (perhaps with an added condition if the attack hits), maybe a daily that gives you an aura that damages any adjacent enemy that makes an attack against you to reflect the sword's quick riposte, and an at-will stance power that lets you enter a super-defensive mode, where you get an AC bonus but can attack anyone that attacks you.

These are all off the top of my head, but the intent is to show how rarity shapes an item. The common one is fairly passive. The uncommon one adds a wrinkle that is very useful for defenders. The rare item gives you an entire new stance you can enter if you want to lock down a group of monsters.

In terms of mind space, the first one is very simple. The second one comes up once a fight. The third one opens up an entire new tactic for your character, perhaps something you can build an entire set of abilities, feats, and tactics around.

Now this example is a little extreme (the stuff I described could be horribly broken; it's all off the top of my head), but I hope it provides some illumination.


Answers to rules questions are meant to be helpful advice or insights, not canonical R&D dictates. Treat them as unofficial, but (hopefully) useful.

Well I just wanted to add my voice to the choir, Really.
I thoroughly enjoyed this article.

Can I take it from this that your intended method for addressing the problem of "common"-type items being generally more desirable to players than "uncommon"-type items is to make most uncommon items also incorporate universally applicable properties?

Yes, that is definitely the approach when it is appropriate. There will be times when a power is juicy enough that it doesn't also need a property to go along with it, but we expect that uncommon items should be better than common ones. However, common items must still be useful.


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I also liked the new format!

It is much more interesting to read the items when they have colorful descriptions like those in the article .
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I will happily join the chorus here, saying how much I liked this format.  I think the biggest problem with it, honestly, is that the NPC and store feel like they should be in Dungeon, but the Magic Items belong in Dragon.

The summary of how rarity is expected to work is a huge help, too.  Figures, now Mike Mearls has ruined complaining about Common Items...
What makes me sad - no more compiled magazines: http://community.wizards.com/go/thread/view/75882/27580349/Dungeon_and_Dragon_Magazine_PDFs&post_num=24#495423645
I like the article. I'm always struggling to come up with memorable personalities and shops when my PCs look to spend coin. I like elevating it above looking at a list in a book, so stuff like this will for sure help.

Let's see some taverns, inns, mundane shopkeepers, acane shops for components, etc...
In this case, it sounds to me as if the majority of effective Uncommon items are not yet written.

On another note, are Alternative Reward-type "items" intended to always be classified as Rare, or are they meant to go by the same categorization criteria? There was a recent Dragon article (www.wizards.com/DnD/Article.aspx?x=dnd/d...) which featured one Common item (which fit your description for Common), one Uncommon item (whose property seems borderline between Common and Uncommon), and three Rare alternative rewards, all of which were at the Common or Uncommon level of impact. Perhaps there was simply a communication failure somewhere about what the terms meant?

It is definitely the case that as we move forward, you'll see that many if not most uncommon items look different from the items you have now.

Alternate rewards are a separate issue. They'll have the same basic design pattern as items. I suspect that right now, there is a lag between the implementation of the item rarities and the complete understanding of them. In addition, there are also articles that were accepted and written before the rarities were finalized. Those are bumps in the road that we'll smooth out as we go forward.


Answers to rules questions are meant to be helpful advice or insights, not canonical R&D dictates. Treat them as unofficial, but (hopefully) useful.

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