Magic Items and math in Next

I have seen many threads about the importance of magic items. Should they be part of the math, or just provide additional abilities. I would like to see a little of both.

  1. First of all game math should assume 50% hit rate against same level enemy, +/-10% based on defense being attacked. This is just based off level and stats, not magic items.

  2. +X magic items are kept in game, and still provide bonus to hit and damage. They make you better, as they should, they are magical after all. But they are not required to be competent.

  3. Magic items are out of the player's hands. There still should be guidelines for buying and crafting magic items, but baseline should assume that magic items will be rare and will provide a significant benefit to the user.

Also, magic items with limited use powers need to have powers worth using. I think the new rare items are a good example of what the power level should be.
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I know it's not going to happen, since 5E is all about tradition, but I actually wish they'd drop the "50% hitrate" assumption.  Why is it necessary?  Why should half of our attcks be for naught?  Get rid of that, and you speed up combats right there.  I'd rather defenses be mostly about damage mitigation, and active defenses that might dodge as an immediate reaction.

As far as magic items, I'm of two minds.  On one hand, magic items being special, and not just "tools of the trade" is neat, and helps produce an evocative world.  On the other hand, I love making character builds, and being able to treat magic item slots almost like special feat slots just opens up the character building possibilities that much more.  I don't like being at the mercy of the DM to make my character work the way I want him to work.

I think what I'd like to see is having items that are more casually magical, that still produce useful effects, that a player can generally expect to be able to get if he wants them.  But also have items with more profound magic, and serious story uses, but aren't necessarily better than the normal items in combat, or even useful in combat at all, and aren't quite "Artifacts".  For example, in my 4E campaign, i put in a "Silent Stone" that when removed from its bag, produces absolute silence in the room its in.  It's a radical departure form normal 4E magic item design, but it works out fine, because it doesn't mess with the combat system, but allows them to use it creatively to shape the story.
Your points 1 and 2 are not really compatible.

If your level 20 fighter has a 50% chance to hit level 20 critters with a mundane sword, that same fighter has a 75% chance to hit a level 20 critter with with a +5 sword.

The fight will either be too easy for the level 20 fighter with the magic sword, either too hard for the level 20 fighter with the mundane sword.         
There are a couple of ways points 1 and 2 could be pseudo-reconciled.

First, if the rules assumed that PCs didn't necessarily have the most powerful magic items they were eligible to recieve at their level, but did have magic items they became eligible for several levels back. Eg, if the rules assumed that a fighter of 15th level would have at least a +3 weapon, and the 50% hit rate was calibrated around that expectation. Then a fighter of the same level with a +5 weapon would have only a +10% advantage. The drawback here is that *some* magic items become routine, and not so special anymore.

The other possibility would be that everyone has an innate enhancement bonus. Eg., a fighter of 15th level has a +3 enhancement bonus to attack rolls, and the 50% hit rate is based on that. Then a fighter of the same level with a +5 weapon would, again, ahve only a +10% advantage. But in this case, the main drawback is that PCs "grow out" of magic items; an item that is special and important when the PC gets it, eventually gets eclipsed by their innate enhancement bonus, so that the PC might as well be wielding a mundane weapon anyway.

I'm not sure what a better solution might look like! I am hopeful smarter and more creative people than me can solve this problem. 
Go through the transcripts from DDXP, they already said that they are decoupling magic items from the game math, along with moving to a silver based economy and more verity of mundan items.

I think that it's a great idea, I'm sick of my players saying that their characters should have X Y Z magic itematonality to have the game system agreeing with them, magic items should be a reward they shouldn't be expected as an every day occorance by the players.

Also, when magic item bonuses aren't part of the character math it's easier to give the players interesting things instead of +X sword.

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+X items are boring.  Saying that magic items are +1 is fine, but why even do that?  Why not just make it so that some magic items are Bows of Accuracy and give them the +1 and ignore the rest.

If you want to do hidden magical properties, the game is a lot more annoying with +X items.  As soon as you add a +X to hit, the DM needs to mentally adjust for it.  Far better to have magic items which operate like normal swords when their condtions are not activated.  I want a player to find a "nice, well crafted" blade, and one day have it suddenly leap alive with radiance when they face down a zombie. 
+X items are boring.  Saying that magic items are +1 is fine, but why even do that?  Why not just make it so that some magic items are Bows of Accuracy and give them the +1 and ignore the rest.

If you want to do hidden magical properties, the game is a lot more annoying with +X items.  As soon as you add a +X to hit, the DM needs to mentally adjust for it.  Far better to have magic items which operate like normal swords when their condtions are not activated.  I want a player to find a "nice, well crafted" blade, and one day have it suddenly leap alive with radiance when they face down a zombie. 



Actually, if you want to have magical items that are more accurate, give them a (not at-will) power equivelent to elven accuracy.
There are a couple of ways points 1 and 2 could be pseudo-reconciled.

First, if the rules assumed that PCs didn't necessarily have the most powerful magic items they were eligible to recieve at their level, but did have magic items they became eligible for several levels back. Eg, if the rules assumed that a fighter of 15th level would have at least a +3 weapon, and the 50% hit rate was calibrated around that expectation. Then a fighter of the same level with a +5 weapon would have only a +10% advantage. The drawback here is that *some* magic items become routine, and not so special anymore.

The other possibility would be that everyone has an innate enhancement bonus. Eg., a fighter of 15th level has a +3 enhancement bonus to attack rolls, and the 50% hit rate is based on that. Then a fighter of the same level with a +5 weapon would, again, ahve only a +10% advantage. But in this case, the main drawback is that PCs "grow out" of magic items; an item that is special and important when the PC gets it, eventually gets eclipsed by their innate enhancement bonus, so that the PC might as well be wielding a mundane weapon anyway.

I'm not sure what a better solution might look like! I am hopeful smarter and more creative people than me can solve this problem. 



That's a lot of mechanics just to keep the +X label on your weapon. It's pretty much equivalent to having Enchanted Swords that give you a +1 bonus to hit.

I know it's not going to happen, since 5E is all about tradition, but I actually wish they'd drop the "50% hitrate" assumption. Why is it necessary? Why should half of our attcks be for naught? Get rid of that, and you speed up combats right there. I'd rather defenses be mostly about damage mitigation, and active defenses that might dodge as an immediate reaction.


I agree with those statements. The benefit I see in the 50% hit rate assumption is its tie to dice rolling and tradition (Redundant, I know.). Dice rolling is fun, and people are familiar with rolling a 20-sided die, adding a modifier and comparing it against a number. They know when they roll below a 10 that there is little chance of success, and when they roll big numbers they probably got a hit.


The problem is variance causing a lot of frustrating game experiences which can last for a single encounter or haunt a player/group for a whole night of gaming. We have all been the person who for a whole night can never roll over a 5. That experience usually sucks.


I like dice rolling, but would like to see most powers have both a hit and a miss case. Every action a player takes should change the game state of an encounter. Players shouldn't be spending a round attacking, rolling, missing, and sighing as they pass their turn.

As for magic items, I think their importance is inversely proportional to the importance of character progression. When there is great depth in character creation through race, class, theme, etc... the need for magic items to be part of the system is low. When character creation is shallow (i.e. not enough to distinguish multiple players in the same class) magic items provide much needed customization. Gear progression is usually just a crutch to fill in for character progression. 

I see magic items as they are today as just feats under a different name. 

The only way that decoupling magic items from character progression will work is if most or all magic items lose the +x trait. Otherwise it is impossible to simply calculate the power level of the party based on level, and making encounters loses the simplicity it has in 4e.
The only way that decoupling magic items from character progression will work is if most or all magic items lose the +x trait. Otherwise it is impossible to simply calculate the power level of the party based on level, and making encounters loses the simplicity it has in 4e.


You're mostly correct.  +x items could still be feasible if the "x" is sufficiently small.  Of course, with a minimal range of +x (+1 to +2, definitely nothing higher than +3 at the most), the +x would have to become no more than icing on the cake; that is, the iteam would have to have other powers and properties that make it worthwhile, with the +x thrown in on only the most masterful versions of that item.

There are a great many problems that can be circumvented by players and DMs having a mature discussion about what the game is going to be like before they ever sit down together to play.

 

The answer really does lie in more options, not in confining and segregating certain options.

 

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I would greatly favor eliminating +X items (and feats, for that matter) and raising the basic hit rate well above 50%.

If they hadn't made those two enormous mistakes in the foundation of 4E, we might not need a Next.
If your position is that the official rules don't matter, or that house rules can fix everything, please don't bother posting in forums about the official rules. To do so is a waste of everyone's time.
The only way that decoupling magic items from character progression will work is if most or all magic items lose the +x trait. Otherwise it is impossible to simply calculate the power level of the party based on level, and making encounters loses the simplicity it has in 4e.



Not wholly true.

The +x trait is not the problem.  +X with two broad a range is the problem.

If some characters have a +1 and others do not - that will in no way throw off the power calculations.  

The problem arises when some have +5 (or even +3) and others do not. 

Flat bonus progression is the key.  And sure - you don't need to call them +x weapons.  If you want to call it the Bow of Accuracy, and then give it a +1 bonus mechanically, fine.  +x as a label only made sense when you were looking at a range of bonuses with nothing else to distinguish them.  But if+1 (or maybe +2, tops) is all there is then you can simply use descriptive terms while retaining the same mechanics.

Also, fwiw, I'm not convinced that it a) is possible to calculate encounter balance with that degree of precision or b) even desirable.


Ah! Here it is. I remember reading something about the +X bonus to magical items somewhere.

So here’s what I understand so far:

So what does a "+x" represent? By denoting a "+" indicates that it's magical and the "X" indicates its power. Regular weapons and armor are not denoted by anything. We know that magical armor can be resized to fit their wearer. Magical armor with only the ability to resize could look something like "+ Chain mail". It provides no extra protection than a normal suit of fitted chain mail because other than its resizing ability, it does nothing else. Likewise, magical weapons cannot be broken except by an equal or higher "+X" bonus. A long sword with just this ability could look like "+ Long sword". Anything without a magical denotation cannot break this long sword. Neither of these two objects exist D&D but is none the less possible because of the perceived principles governing them.

Let's start to add values to our power variable and see what happens. Our long sword is now a full +1 Long sword. We are granted both extra damage and an attack bonus. The 3e PHB (119) states that in order to touch an opponent (with your weapon) you make your "attack rolls as normal" (Help me here 4e, does the attack bonus apply to touch attacks?). This includes your attack bonus granted by a magical weapon. When making an attack to see if we touch them, we retain our attack bonus which means the "+X" makes it easier to hit our opponent and not overcome their armor. This also true of the +1 attack bonus for masterwork weapons because they are "well-made".

Why is knowing this important? AC is still rolled into two types of functions. The first function is evasion. You completely avoid an attack by not being hit by it. The second function is armor. The better your armor the harder it is for a damaging blow. You retain the attack bonuses for hitting things with no armor at all therefore the attack bonus applies only to hitting them.

Here is where it gets strange. All magic weapons are masterwork. The +1 masterwork attack bonus doesn't stack with the "+1" enchantment on the +1 long sword (PHB 114). The sword is still masterwork and still "well-made" enough to make it easier to hit opponents but they still no longer account for it. Perhaps the "+1" is superior because it's "magic" but only in a superficial way and that's why it doesn't stack. Actually it doesn't stack because it's just easier to say it doesn't stack. You should realistically retain the +1 attack bonus for it being masterwork and +1 for it being magical but then you'd get a +1 weapon granting +2 attack bonus and +1 damage bonus. This is more difficult to keep track of than just having it the same for both. By doing it this way we have just arbitrarily broken the rules of an important fundamental, something that plagues all editions of D&D like a plague.

Why make such a big deal about this? Because I want to know what the "+X" bonus is quantifying. We know the bonus applies to your ability to hit a target but how? I have never seen an explanation on this. If D&Dn gets both AC and damage reduction (very popular right now) it will split the AC into it's individual functions. I have no doubt they'll have no qualm about adding "+X" to hit without ever explaining how.


  
I have a feeling +X items will be dropped, having said that, if they did include them, now that scaling is being flattened (which I love, I carved out the 1/2 level bonus SWSE vestige to attacks, defences and skills in 4th Ed) , maybe you have to quest for a +1 item, because an extra +1 will be huge.
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