Your mission, if you choose to accept it, is to use the same criteria that we did and go through the magic items you’re familiar with to see if there’s anything we should add or remove from the proposed changes. On the 21st, we’ll turn over the list of suggestions (updated with your feedback) to the R&D team for them to pick over and finalize which changes will be made.
I know from previous conversations that there are some great ideas and opinions out there about changing item rarity—now’s your chance to make sure we get those ideas in front of R&D.
Item Rarity Guidelines
Mordenkainen’s Magnificent Emporium
This book is the benchmark for assigning rarity.
Rare items are meant to be character-defining, powerful objects that help forge the character’s identity in the world. If you find a flame-tongue weapon, you’ve uncovered an important, powerful blade. Since the characters won’t have many of these items, they can be more complicated in terms of type and number of powers.
A rare item . . .
- Should be more powerful than an uncommon or a common item of the same level
- Should have a combination of elements (properties and powers), unless its single property or power is exceptionally powerful
- Should have the potential to affect every combat encounter (typically accomplished with a property, an at-will power, an encounter power, or a combination of these elements)
Few items published before Heroes of the Fallen Lands qualify as rare.
Common items typically lack activated powers. They usually confer a simple bonus or a static effect that you note on your character sheet and forget about. For example, a pair of gloves that grants a +2 bonus to Thievery checks makes a fine common item. You note the modifier to your skill check, adjust the total bonus as necessary, and never think of the gloves again until you find new ones to replace them.
The intent behind common items is to keep the game’s complexity load manageable. Common items are useful, but they don’t create a distraction or an extra layer of choice within an encounter.
A common item . . .
- Should have a single simple effect, which might be expressed by a property or, more rarely, a utility power
- Should have an effect that is easy to interpret and that is not situational
- Should be less powerful than an uncommon or a rare item of the same level
Because a common item can be crafted and purchased by a player character, the item should not provide an effect that is easy to abuse if the character acquires multiple copies of the item.
Uncommon items occupy the middle ground between rare and common items. They have powers, but these powers are typically daily abilities. They have static effects, but they are rarely character-defining or critical to a hero’s identity.
Most items fall into this category. Basically, if an item does not qualify to be common or rare, it’s uncommon.
Story Rarity vs. Item Rarity
Story rarity (“the world has never seen more than one sword such as this one”) is divorced from item rarity. In other words, story claims have no effect on whether an item is common, uncommon, or rare. The item must meet the game guidelines for its rarity.