Dragon 394 - Bazaar of the Bizarre: Magic of Old

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DnDi_Large.pngDragon 394
Bazaar of the Bizarre: Magic of Old

by Matt Sernett

The memories of the eladrin are long, but their magic is even more ancient.

Talk about this Article here.

182_grifnar.jpg

The link to the complete article seems to be broken.
Yup...broken link.
thank you for pointing out the missing link.  i have updated the original post to reflect this information.

The link was fine; the pdf was broken. 

It's fixed now.

(BTW, this is the reason why we don't deploy articles over holidays; no one's around to fix problems if they occur.)

Steve
 

If your only tool is a warhammer, every problem looks like a gnoll.

I really enjoyed this article.
Why wouldn't every two weapon and two handed weapon using PC ever not want the winged shield?  Am I missing something, or is that item too good?
Sigh... another article filled with rare items that aren't worth their value or level.

Ring of Winter: Meh unless you're in a Cold themed campaign. But then why would your DM give you one of these?

Dragon Orbs: Situational magic items. There's no reason a DM should give you one of these considering how easy Dragons are to take down anyways.

Veil of Night: Limited usefulness. I'm sure some class out there can make these daily powers work for them but it isn't worth the loss of your Paragon Rare item allotment.

Winged Shield: Actually useful for people that like to use in-game gimmicks swapping around off-hand weapons. Decent but once again you're missing out on other rare items.

I'm really glad our table isn't unnecessarily limited to magic item rarity rules, but even then most of these items are fairly useless. Just something else to sift through while looking for something useful.
The winged shield is a nice enough item to actually be called rare, but the story made me more interested in the singing sword.

The ring of winter functions well and I enjoyed hearing more about the Prince of Frost.  I still disagree that Rings in general should be rare though.

The Veil of Night seems like it would bog down combat: two ranged attackers can just sit under it shooting at enemies with -5 to being hit and never take an OA.  The only counters would be aoe spam, blindsighted monsters, or archery enemies shooting back from cover.

The orbs of Dragonkind bother me for many reasons.  We already have the "Orb of the Blue Flight" artifact from Draconomicon 1, which is nearly identical in story and function, and included suggestions for reflavoring to other colors.  Also, it strikes me as odd that the colored orbs are supposed to be better than the general orb, but the crit bonus becomes tied to the color of dragon.  Moving on, the unique properties of each color (from causing fire damage, to dwarf movement resistance) aren't balanced against each other.  Lastly, spending a standard action to get +5 attack on the next swing (which will be wasted when the roll hit naturally or was too low even with +5) seems like a raw deal, even when stacked with a daily.
Apparently this is "High Paragon Rare Item Month".



Neat items, but I'd have loved to see a larger level spread.
Winged Shield is just a light shield, so it's no more powerful than the feats Two Weapon Defense and Hafted Defense.

It's still a nice item though.

Edit: Also, using this shield prevents the character from using Iron Armbands, which some might say is more important.
Tibis Refugee of many worlds
I find it odd that the Dragonking Orbs add a +4 to the attack roll for the at-will domination attack. It's not like they need it, anyway, since they have the Implement keyword. Unless I'm missing something, they'd manage your average 60%-70% hit rate without the bonus, and are dangerously close to auto-hit territory with it. Then again, it's possible that they were intended to hit almost always, but then, why bother with the penalty on a miss?

I think the items would be much more interesting if the powers were usable once per encounter (perhaps with Reliable), or at least weren't absurdly accurate. As it is, my concern isn't that they are too strong, but that it is hard to justify for the wielder to do anything but spam the domination when a dragon comes up (even with updated, dominate-resistant dragons from Monster Vault).  

Other than that, I could see  adding some balance across orb colors (since the white one is far cooler than the rest), and making the daily attack bonus a minor action, so that it will actually be worth using.

That said, I liked the article, and found the items interesting, even if implementation could see some improvements. Winged Shield is pretty and effective but not too crazy, Ring of Winter is a situational rare, but I love the damaging power. Veil of Night would have worked better for me as an uncommon, or perhaps with its first power as an encounter, though.
My blog about 4e rules and news: Square Fireballs The Magic Item Reset: A standalone set of items for 4E
I loved the article.  The only trouble I found was with Veil of Night, because I'd like to either be able to MOVE with the Veil of Night's first power in effect, or else it be an encounter power.  A greater Invisibility Cloak should allow you to get around, not just stand still invisible and then wait a day before getting to stand still invisible again.

Before posting, why not ask yourself, What Would Wrecan Say?

IMAGE(http://images.onesite.com/community.wizards.com/user/marandahir/thumb/9ac5d970f3a59330212c73baffe4c556.png?v=90000)

A great man once said "If WotC put out boxes full of free money there'd still be people complaining about how it's folded." – Boraxe

Sigh... another article filled with rare items that aren't worth their value or level.

Ring of Winter: Meh unless you're in a Cold themed campaign. But then why would your DM give you one of these?

Dragon Orbs: Situational magic items. There's no reason a DM should give you one of these considering how easy Dragons are to take down anyways.

Veil of Night: Limited usefulness. I'm sure some class out there can make these daily powers work for them but it isn't worth the loss of your Paragon Rare item allotment.

Winged Shield: Actually useful for people that like to use in-game gimmicks swapping around off-hand weapons. Decent but once again you're missing out on other rare items.

I'm really glad our table isn't unnecessarily limited to magic item rarity rules, but even then most of these items are fairly useless. Just something else to sift through while looking for something useful.



Not sure I agree here. Winged Shield is undeniably useful for certain characters. Ring of Winter is pretty solid free damage every encounter. Veil of Night is encounter long invisibility for two characters, provided neither of them need to move. And at-will domination of dragons, for a Level+1 Orb, is pretty solid.

My only complaint are the actual Rare dragon orbs, which seem almost universally worse than the basic Uncommon version.

The big thing they get is the ability, as a standard action, to boost their next attack against a dragon. Which will pretty much always be worse than just using that standard action to attack.

In return, they have their bonus crit damage and dragon domination tied to a specific dragon color.

They also gain one additional benefit. The Red Orb adds the fire keyword to a power once per day - pretty much useless. The others, at least, are somewhat decent - the Green orb gives Poison Resist, White Orb protects against various immobilize/slow/forced movement, and Silver Orb protects you from vulnerabilities - which won't come up often in general, but does open up specific abuse of certain other items and powers.

But it just seems odd that the Uncommon version is more universally useful than the Rares. Everything else in the article seems decently balanced - and the flavor is certainly excellent - but the mechanics of the Dragon Orbs just doesn't feel quite right.
A couple of things strike me:

A typo in the first line of the article: 'winkling lights' - presumably this is supposed to be either twinkling or winking.  Needs fixing.

The Dragonkind orbs seem to remind me heavily of the hilariously bad D&D movie.  The key MacGuffins in that movie were orbs (admittedly rod-mounted) which controlled dragons.  Could be coincidence, I guess, but still, I'm amused by it.  I think the ignoring resitance part of the daily standard power is probably more important than the +hit, personally.

Veil of Night has a typo in the power description: Your and an adjacent ally > You and an adjacent ally

The Winged Shield is Rare, so it seems unlikely that a player might obtain more than one - but it should have a limit of one hard-written into the item.  Otherwise what stops someone having 20 or 30 orbiting them, and making their AC literally unhittable?  EDIT: I'm being dumb, it's still an Arms Slot item, and you only have one Arms slot (despite the fact that you have two arms, and a shield only takes one of them o_O) Other than that minor issue, it's a very fun item, and one which I'm sure virtually every sword-and-board type will be clamouring for, so they can become a 2HW-and-board type instead without losing too much.  Allowing it to occupy the Hands slot would be outstanding for the Char Op types, albeit Rare items aren't hugely fair game.  I do note that, as written, you need to actually have it strapped on in order to get the Reflex shield bonus though.

Lovely stories and flavour, the Ring of Winter story in particular sounds like an interesting hook for an adventure, quest or campaign.

But only one non-rare item, and that Uncommon, and nothing below mid-paragon, makes this, once more, not Dragon content.  Rares are not player-available without DM approval, that makes them Dungeon content.  I can't use anything in this article, and I'm not likely to be able to for a good 6 months, minimum, if the right sort of LFR games come up.  And even then, it's highly unlikely since it's virtually all Rare.

Bring me more common items that I can equip to starting LFR characters.  The last couple of Bazaar of the Bizzarre issue have been great - the Shielding Blade is one of my go-to items for most characters now, if they have a free hand, because everyone can use an extra point of AC, and everyone can use daggers.

Bring me good flavour like there has been in recent articles, too - they've been reasonably enjoyable to read, and have sometimes set the sparks of inspiration smouldering.  But the articles have not been useful enough mechanically for it to matter. 

Reading the stories is fun, but if I want to partake of someone else's story, I'll read a book.  I play D&D to make my own stories, with my group.  For that,  I need crunch, as much as or more than I need flavour.
Harrying your Prey, the Easy Way: A Hunter's Handbook - the first of what will hopefully be many CharOp efforts on my part. The Blinker - teleport everywhere. An Eladrin Knight/Eldritch Knight. CB != rules source.
A couple of things strike me:

A typo in the first line of the article: 'winkling lights' - presumably this is supposed to be either twinkling or winking.  Needs fixing.

The Dragonkind orbs seem to remind me heavily of the hilariously bad D&D movie.  The key MacGuffins in that movie were orbs (admittedly rod-mounted) which controlled dragons.  Could be coincidence, I guess, but still, I'm amused by it.  I think the ignoring resitance part of the daily standard power is probably more important than the +hit, personally.

Veil of Night has a typo in the power description: Your and an adjacent ally > You and an adjacent ally



Typos should be mentioned in article errata thread.


The Winged Shield is Rare, so it seems unlikely that a player might obtain more than one - but it should have a limit of one hard-written into the item.  Otherwise what stops someone having 20 or 30 orbiting them, and making their AC literally unhittable?  EDIT: I'm being dumb, it's still an Arms Slot item, and you only have one Arms slot (despite the fact that you have two arms, and a shield only takes one of them o_O) Other than that minor issue, it's a very fun item, and one which I'm sure virtually every sword-and-board type will be clamouring for, so they can become a 2HW-and-board type instead without losing too much.  Allowing it to occupy the Hands slot would be outstanding for the Char Op types, albeit Rare items aren't hugely fair game.  I do note that, as written, you need to actually have it strapped on in order to get the Reflex shield bonus though.


Of course, there's that one PPath that allows you to use two shields…


Lovely stories and flavour, the Ring of Winter story in particular sounds like an interesting hook for an adventure, quest or campaign.

But only one non-rare item, and that Uncommon, and nothing below mid-paragon, makes this, once more, not Dragon content.  Rares are not player-available without DM approval, that makes them Dungeon content.  I can't use anything in this article, and I'm not likely to be able to for a good 6 months, minimum, if the right sort of LFR games come up.  And even then, it's highly unlikely since it's virtually all Rare.



Read the aside panels.  They're all directed towards players.  Item articles are, for the most part, in the hands of the players to say "I want this."  The game is a mutual story-telling, but to some extent, you have to separate player knowledge from game knowledge.  The player may be expecting to get a Winged Shield in the future, while their character stumbles upon it.  Item articles, regardless, should be player material. 


Bring me more common items that I can equip to starting LFR characters.  The last couple of Bazaar of the Bizzarre issue have been great - the Shielding Blade is one of my go-to items for most characters now, if they have a free hand, because everyone can use an extra point of AC, and everyone can use daggers.

Bring me good flavour like there has been in recent articles, too - they've been reasonably enjoyable to read, and have sometimes set the sparks of inspiration smouldering.  But the articles have not been useful enough mechanically for it to matter. 

Reading the stories is fun, but if I want to partake of someone else's story, I'll read a book.  I play D&D to make my own stories, with my group.  For that,  I need crunch, as much as or more than I need flavour.



I think I've said everything I want to.  I think there's good crunch here too.  But the ratio of crunch to flavour has shifted in Dragon articles, because we demanded more flavour.  Now, if we continue to demand more crunch, we'll get that, eventually.  But remember, this is the result of our responses to WotC about having too little flavour text and too many articles that were 20 feats or 15 powers and nothing tying them together.

Before posting, why not ask yourself, What Would Wrecan Say?

IMAGE(http://images.onesite.com/community.wizards.com/user/marandahir/thumb/9ac5d970f3a59330212c73baffe4c556.png?v=90000)

A great man once said "If WotC put out boxes full of free money there'd still be people complaining about how it's folded." – Boraxe

Another Dragon Article with zero player content.

Is there a reason this wasn't in Dungeon?
Read the aside panels.  They're all directed towards players.  Item articles are, for the most part, in the hands of the players to say "I want this."  The game is a mutual story-telling, but to some extent, you have to separate player knowledge from game knowledge.  The player may be expecting to get a Winged Shield in the future, while their character stumbles upon it.  Item articles, regardless, should be player material. 



Eh, I liked the article, but definitely felt like Dungeon content rather than Dragon content. Articles focused on Rare items aren't player content, period. Sure, a player can tell the DM they'd like to get the Ring of Winter or Deck of Many Things - just like they can hint that they'd like to visit the Underdark or fight Grazz't. But it still remains the DMs call, and player input only goes so far when dealing with these things.

So, again, this feels like Dungeon content.

Yes, it is good for the magazines to be including more flavor. It shouldn't come at the cost of all mechanical content. The answer was never to swing wildly in the opposite direction, it was to seek a balance, and that's really what we need to see now.

Which is all very well, except that the only time I'm going to see a level 15 item in the next... 9 months or so at the very earliest... is by picking it up from an LFR mod - and you can't ask your DM for a loot list in LFR, nor can you get Rares without a story award.  I've yet to see a Rare item as a reward in an LFR mod accessible to starter characters, and that's really all I'm playing at present.

I'm not saying I don't think they're good items.  I'm saying they're inaccessible to me.

Show
In case anyone cares why, the only non-LFR campaign I'm currently playing or indeed, likely to play, is currently at level 3, and not starting up again til late January at the earliest, and runs weekly at best.  Assuming a rate of levelling of around once per three sessions - once per month - I can expect to be level 11 in about 9 months, and that's the earliest I'm likely to see a level 15 item.

This is why I want common items.  In a home campaign, I really wouldn't care much.  But in LFR, you can't get Uncommon items for a starter character.
Harrying your Prey, the Easy Way: A Hunter's Handbook - the first of what will hopefully be many CharOp efforts on my part. The Blinker - teleport everywhere. An Eladrin Knight/Eldritch Knight. CB != rules source.

The Winged Shield is Rare, so it seems unlikely that a player might obtain more than one - but it should have a limit of one hard-written into the item.  Otherwise what stops someone having 20 or 30 orbiting them, and making their AC literally unhittable?  EDIT: I'm being dumb, it's still an Arms Slot item, and you only have one Arms slot (despite the fact that you have two arms, and a shield only takes one of them o_O) Other than that minor issue, it's a very fun item, and one which I'm sure virtually every sword-and-board type will be clamouring for, so they can become a 2HW-and-board type instead without losing too much.  Allowing it to occupy the Hands slot would be outstanding for the Char Op types, albeit Rare items aren't hugely fair game.  I do note that, as written, you need to actually have it strapped on in order to get the Reflex shield bonus though.


It's actually not an arms slot item; it's a wonderous item, so it doesn't occupy your arms slot even if you do strap it on.  What stops it from being abusable if you have more than one is that it grants a shield bonus, which won't stack with other shield bonuses.
Valid point - either way, it doesn't really need limited numbers  to avoid abuse.
Harrying your Prey, the Easy Way: A Hunter's Handbook - the first of what will hopefully be many CharOp efforts on my part. The Blinker - teleport everywhere. An Eladrin Knight/Eldritch Knight. CB != rules source.
Winged Shield

Question -
To use any powers or feats that require a shield to be equiped, you'd need to equip the Winged Shield.
True or False?

Asking as the way I'm reading it, it sounds like you would need to equip it to use those feats / powers.
The Winged Shield being a wondrous item, you don't need any shield proficiencies to use it.  Correct?  That looks like the RAI, anyways.  RAW seems a little ambiguous, but I may just be interpreting poorly.
Ring of Winter: Meh unless you're in a Cold themed campaign. But then why would your DM give you one of these?

Actually I was thinking of handing this item out near the start of a module with cold using enemies. It's just too high level for me to do so. Otherwise it would have been perfect.

I mean, not all DMs are tools and sometimes we like handing PCs items that are useful.
Dragon Orbs: Situational magic items. There's no reason a DM should give you one of these considering how easy Dragons are to take down anyways.

I TPKed a well optimized (using char-ops handbook built) characters easily with a Monster Vault White Dragon and the Monster Vault Dracolich - both of whom if backed by any terrain in their favor are absolute beasts (especially the Dracolich). In fact, the irony of the item is that it's too useless. Monster Vault dragons automatically end dominate (and other conditions) before ther turn and at the end of their turn. So at best you need to dominate them between their Init+10 instinctive action and their turn or the orb has zero effect.

So it's actually completely irrelevant. More because Dragons actually have had a substantial power increase with monster vault than anything else. I have already added instinctive action and action recovery to all previous dragons as well.

Edit: Actually I just noticed it was ranged 20. That makes them not too bad as long as you have the distance to actually make use of that.
Veil of Night: Limited usefulness. I'm sure some class out there can make these daily powers work for them but it isn't worth the loss of your Paragon Rare item allotment.

I can see some use for this, but given that tremorsense and truesight got such an increase recently with the rules compendium, it's not great.
Winged Shield: Actually useful for people that like to use in-game gimmicks swapping around off-hand weapons. Decent but once again you're missing out on other rare items.


I think the winged shield actually is really good for quite a lot of builds and classes. Having your other hand free is useful for a lot of reasons in game.
. In fact, the irony of the item is that it's too useless. Monster Vault dragons automatically end dominate (and other conditions) before ther turn and at the end of their turn. So at best you need to dominate them between their Init+10 instinctive action and their turn or the orb has zero effect.



This is not entirely accurate. If the dragon ends the dominate condition as part of the Init+10 instinctive action, that instinctive action is lost, so the 'wasted' dominate ends up taking away a solo's standard action. Granted, you won't get all other benefits from domination, so it's just a mini-stun... which is not necessarily a bad deal.

Never mind that most dragons get quite strong immediate actions, so turning them off temporarily with the domination is also worth something. And, of course, if you DO dominate them between Init+10 and their turn, it's pure win.

Not what I'd call irrelevant, by any means. 
My blog about 4e rules and news: Square Fireballs The Magic Item Reset: A standalone set of items for 4E
This is not entirely accurate. If the dragon ends the dominate condition as part of the Init+10 instinctive action, that instinctive action is lost, so the 'wasted' dominate ends up taking away a solo's standard action.

It doesn't take the dragons full turn, who promptly turns your wizard into shish ke-bab. Losing one standard action (or a minor in one case) to get back an entire turn is not only a very good deal, it's exactly what instinctive action is there to do.

And, of course, if you DO dominate them between Init+10 and their turn, it's pure win.

Having to be on a specific initiative is quite problematic and also, their instinctive action can kick in. A Dracolich can turn the tables on you immediately by dominating you: Then it doesn't matter what orb you have as you walk towards its jaws of death on its turn to dismantle your wizard. Not to mention that action recovery will simply end the dominate at the end of their turn anyway. Of course it is an at-will dominate at +4 to attack, so you can keep doing it if you are fortunate enough to delay/ready into that intiative. But it's not going to be an unstoppable strategy by all means and you are then perfectly vulnerable to the dragons init+10 attack, of which some dragons like the White Dragon can easily get far more than a single standard action attack out of. If you do happen to miss though, you instantly get yourself dazed - will be next to the dragon with its full turn and you are then in immense trouble.

Edit: Pre-MV Dragons are screwed though, but pre-MM3 solos vary towards sucking horribly and being just okayish anyway.
Alright, we may be talking about different things here.

I'm not arguing that orbs of dragonkind are an unstoppable strategy. You stated that they were too useless, and could have zero effect, and I just don't see it that way - rather, I think they are quite effective, and that even the worst case scenario is rather strong.

The dragon's Instinctive Action trait is awesome, I wouldn't dare dispute that. Any dragon will be very happy to trade the standard/minor instinctive action to prevent a turn of domination. That said, losing that instinctive action does hurt the dragon quite a bit (I'd say it's worth between 25% and 50% of a dragon's offensive potential, depending on type of dragon). If the Orb just said "hit: the dragon loses its next intinctive action", it would still have a substantial impact on a Dragon encounter.

And then there's the very real chance of actually dominating them for a full turn (sans instinctive action). With an at-will power. That will only miss very rarely. That is really, really great. It won't end the encounter, and I'm sorry if the 'pure win' statement suggested that I though it would - but as an at-will effect I think it's enough to turn a challenging fight into an easy one.
My blog about 4e rules and news: Square Fireballs The Magic Item Reset: A standalone set of items for 4E
A couple of things strike me:

A typo in the first line of the article: 'winkling lights' - presumably this is supposed to be either twinkling or winking.  Needs fixing.






en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Portmanteau


 


lol.


 


Wolf.

Would a swordmage be able to wield Winged Shield and get bonus from both the shield and his Swordmage Warding?
As written, yes.  The item is not held in hand, nor does it take up the arms slot.

But if you used the free action to grab the shield, you'd go down to +1 warding.
Harrying your Prey, the Easy Way: A Hunter's Handbook - the first of what will hopefully be many CharOp efforts on my part. The Blinker - teleport everywhere. An Eladrin Knight/Eldritch Knight. CB != rules source.
As I figured, all the orbs got changed to daily powers for their dominate effect.
As I figured, all the orbs got changed to daily powers for their dominate effect.



Actually, only the uncommon, generic one was changed that way - which makes sense, given that it was much more useful than the rare ones. The color-specific orbs remain usable at-will, but since their use is so restrictive and they are rares, to begin with, I hardly see it as game-breaking.

My blog about 4e rules and news: Square Fireballs The Magic Item Reset: A standalone set of items for 4E
Yeah, that finally feels appropriate for what they are aiming for. An uncommon with a hint of their full power. Rares that, essentially, win encounters against dragons... of the right color. Given that the DM is basically the one handing out the Rare item, and then deciding to have the PCs encounter a dragon vulnerable to it, I don't see any real potential for abuse.