+X Weapons and Armor

So what do people feel about the +1 longsword in D&D Next?  Should the enhancement bonuses of magic items be assumed necessary for accuracy?  Can we even get rid of this without losing the feel of D&D?  Personally, I couldn't imagine D&D without +X weapons and armor, and yet I also hate how necessary they become.  That said, I've employed a houserule in 4e that I felt worked pretty well.  After giving everybody inherent bonuses to attack rolls, magic weapons functioned more like Elven Accuracy - once per encounter, you could reroll a missed attack with a bonus equal to the weapon's rating.  And of course, the enhancement bonus applied to damage and crits as usual.  Similarly, +X armor allowed you to force an opponent to reroll a hit with a penalty to the reroll equal to the enhancement bonus.  Which was also subtracted from the damage dealt by a critical hit.  Of course, this was a houserule that I only applied if nobody was playing an elf or a halfling, since it was essentially a duplicate of their racial powers, but I found this was a very handy way to keep +X weapons and armor without magic items becoming necessary.

What do the rest of you think?  Would this be a good way to keep +X weapons and armor?  Or would you prefer we kept the classic approach?  Or get rid of +X weapons altogether?  Some other option I haven't thought of?  Discuss.
I would drop the +X from accuracy.

I would have a weapon's +X be for damage only and armor's +X give damage reduction.
Exactly what OleOneEye said, but just for tradition sake have all magic items give a +1 to the to hit roll or AC.

So +1 sword is +1 hit and damage, but +3 sword is +1 hit and +3 damage and +4 armor is +1 AC and +4 DR.

Also no simple "Plus" magic items, they should also all do something else even if it is a small skill bonus or light generation something.

The magic sword "Wolfbrother" that is +1 hit and damage, gives +2 survival rolls, and makes a snarling sound when a critical hit is landed is much cooler then generic +1 sword mass produced for commonwealth.

Remember this is a public forum where people express their opinions assume there is a “In my humble opinion” in front of every post especially mine.  

 

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I believe removing the +X would devalue the reward nature of a weapon as Magic items. Having a Combat matrix that scales and account for +X Items and having a Combat matrix that doesn't scale but have no +X items is the same. Then only properties and powers matters. But armors and weapons has always been more than that.

For a Magic Item to be a reward (even a lowly sword +1)  its bonus need also to factor for acuracy as its another of its benefits. It is also an advatange for weapon users and something to really look after for them, this even if the item doesn't have any other property or powers.

Plus its very iconic. It needs to remain in the game IMHO   Wink
There is nothing wrong with a simple +x item. A dm can always give them a story.
Im all for moving characters away from being completely reliant on magical weapons to actually hit. And if anything I would have to go with what paraxis has gave as an idea.

Yes magic weapons should help a little, but your accuracy should come from your heroes not your trinkets. 
I'd like to see a move to encourage DMs to design more detailed, less common magic items. I don't want to see characters reliant on magic items (so there should be some way for non-magical attacks to overcome damage resistance; criticals should always do so, I think), and I'd like to see the mythic narrative quality of magic weapons brought out. So to deal with the specific issues raised, I'd have the following attributes available:

Accurate +n: The weapon gives +n to hit, and overcomes damage resistance up to that level.
Harmful +n: The weapon gives +n to damage, and overcomes damage resistance up to that level.
Rending +n: The weapon widens the critical hit bracket by n points. It gives no other powers against damage resistance.

Deflecting +n: The armour (or weapon, perhaps) gives +n to armour class.
Absorbing +n/+m: The armour gives +n to damage resistance against attacks less than +m enhancement.

DMs should be encouraged not just to give out generic swords +1, but to give each one even a little backstory.

"This is Xenomachos, slayer-of-outsiders, which was worn by a lieutenant in the city guard of the fabled Elven capital, Euopolis. It vibrates whenever demons are near." (The DM adds an index card to the campaign folder, saying: Xenomachos - Mithril-bearded longsword, Accurate +2, Harmful +2, Deflecting +2, detects evil outsiders at a range of 50 yards by vibrating. Then, whenever the player wields it, the DM has the card out, and notes the extra effects as they occur.)

Let us break the generic sword +1 in sunder!

Z.
The +1 sword isn't a problem.  Even with the reportedly flatter math of DDN, +1 and +2 weapons and armor are probably not breaking; though their impact will likely be felt more.

+X items become a problem when the +X weapons and armor are required to be effective at your level, and here's why:

1) Requiring +X items to be effective removes the reward nature of the item.  It's no longer a situation of "look at my cool +3 sword."  Instead, it becomes "finally, a +3 sword.  Now I can stop getting ragged on for missing all the time."  This means you have to artificially inflate the bonus if you want the item to feel like a reward.  And that's just with weapons.  When you consider armor, not having the needed +X items makes you more likely to die (which increases the chances of TPK).

2) Requiring +X items to be effective forces low-magic campaigns to compensate for their loss with an additional layer of rules (inherent bonuses, and such).  It's much simpler to not require the +X items at all.

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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+x is just fine...as long as that method of play is tempered with rarity. If every is capable of upgrading their weapons when they have gold to spare....they will all have weapons +5. If any character is capable of buying weapons +5 they will all have weapons +5...its as simple as that. If having a +X weapon puts them ahead of the curve on "to hit" then they will all be ahead....while is +X puts them ahead on the armor curve...they will all be ahead. The day i tell my 1e-2e players they can buy +3 or higher weapons on the open market without trading a like-potent item as well as something else (more gear or money....PCs always pay more than they receieve...its how the market works in big magic) they will know the game just went to easy mode.....they have even told me this!

This is important in all magic gear and even spells (wizards)....limitations are what makes players work harder and think more while handouts make them lax and careless....cause death means little if you level fast and get gear easy. The difficulty of magic gear aquisition and spells (wizards) will more than likely set the tempo of most campaigns.

So in closeing ...do not make +x items intrinsic to success in every game.....still keep some monsters around that need "+x to hit". As a well portrayed dynamic of multiple complexities gives monsters so much more depth that players are hard-pressed to always say, "we need to hurt this thing" if there multitudes of ways to represent defenses.
Eh I prefer the damage resistance/regen system to flat out saying a monster requires +x to hurt them.

You know a monster has regen 10 and resist 5, but say a silver weapon weakens, ignores or even turns off one or both of those. 

More flavor, more story, more chances to abuse my knowledge of mythology, and it reserves the option to drop a mountain on people. 
Eh, the thing is, you HAVE +N items then they WILL factor into the power curve to some degree. Either the baseline encounter guidelines will expect some level of enhancement or they will expect none. Either way if you're not at the expected number then things will be off to some degree. 5e claims to be having a flatter power curve as well, which means bonuses are more significant (that is they're harder to acquire, they have the same overall effect in any d20 combat).

Now, you could simply assume there are no bonuses greater than +2 for instance. That was about as high as most 'special' type weapons in AD&D went, though there were a few +3s and a couple of +4/5 ones that you MIGHT get at real high levels. Of course fighters were so under powered by high level that a +5 didn't break things. Assuming that isn't the case in 5e then you'd have to put the limit around +2. Or simply not have +N to-hit or to AC.

I think the OP's suggestion isn't a bad one. It would work. It would certainly make those kinds of items still quite worthwhile if they were the best you could get, but wouldn't have a HUGE impact. They'd also tend to kick in at dramatic moments, which is nice. Sounds like a good suggestion.
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I'd just assume get rid of +x or cap them at +1. Whatever they decide to with them, magic weapons and armor should not be a major part of level balance by default.

+n items too easily become a requirement for characters to have in order function properly. Often leaving players with little choice but to abandon their early items. Drizzt is still wielding the same two simitars he started out with. Why can't my characters do the same?
I would drop the +X from accuracy.

I would have a weapon's +X be for damage only and armor's +X give damage reduction.

The problem here is that you can only drop the accuracy from a magic weapon when you say that armor no longer makes you harder to hit.

Thats really the key issue to magic weapons granting greater accuracty.  Since the beginning, heavier armor has made you harder to hit, as opposed to harder to injure.  Realistically, a man sized target is a man sized target, he can be naked or in full plate, how hard it is to land a blow doesn't change.  How hard it is to *INJURE* that man with any given attack is what changes.  Someone stabbing you in the chest when you're wearing nothing but a shirt is going to hurt you easily.  That same stab to someone in a steel breastplate isn't going to do a thing because the dagger can't penetrate the armor.  You still hit him, you just can't hurt him.

As long as armor makes you harder to hit, then any weapon that makes it easier to injure someone must also make it easier to hit them.  You can't have one without the other.
Realistically, a man sized target is a man sized target, he can be naked or in full plate, how hard it is to land a blow doesn't change.  How hard it is to *INJURE* that man with any given attack is what changes.

But by that line of reasoning I could say that standing behind a wall makes you a bigger target, so you're easier to hit.

A reasonable response is that no, the heavy armor makes YOU - as opposed to the armor - harder to hit.

Someone stabbing you in the chest when you're wearing nothing but a shirt is going to hurt you easily.

Yep. He hits YOU.

That same stab to someone in a steel breastplate isn't going to do a thing because the dagger can't penetrate the armor.  You still hit him, you just can't hurt him.

No, you didn't hit him. You hit his armor.

If you hit his armor hard enough, you'll bash him around, maybe almost knock him over, wrench his arm, or something. But probably not by poking his breastplate with a dagger.

As long as armor makes you harder to hit, then any weapon that makes it easier to injure someone must also make it easier to hit them.  You can't have one without the other.

A plus to damage doesn't make it easier to injure the target. It simply means that if you do injure him at all, you injure him more.

Kind of like an explosive round, as opposed to an ordinary round, that you attempt to fire at a target that's on the other side of a brick wall with a small hole. The explosive round doesn't make it any easier to put your shot through the small hole; it simply means that if you do manage to do so, you'll do more damage to the target.

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I would drop the +X from accuracy.

I would have a weapon's +X be for damage only and armor's +X give damage reduction.

The problem here is that you can only drop the accuracy from a magic weapon when you say that armor no longer makes you harder to hit.


Yep.  That's why I would change +X for armor to damage reduction.  Symetrically matches up with the damage bonus for +X to weapons.
I think the OP's suggestion isn't a bad one. It would work. It would certainly make those kinds of items still quite worthwhile if they were the best you could get, but wouldn't have a HUGE impact. They'd also tend to kick in at dramatic moments, which is nice. Sounds like a good suggestion.



Thanks.  I was beginning to think everyone had overlooked that part of my post.

I'd just assume get rid of +x or cap them at +1. Whatever they decide to with them, magic weapons and armor should not be a major part of level balance by default.

+n items too easily become a requirement for characters to have in order function properly. Often leaving players with little choice but to abandon their early items. Drizzt is still wielding the same two simitars he started out with. Why can't my characters do the same?



I agree whole-heartedly.
I'm going to go out on a limb and say that, at least as it applied to weapons, 3.5 got it right. Yes, you could get a +5 sword. However, you could also spend those pluses to add other bonuses/effects to your weapon, which were frequently better choices than the additional plus to the die roll. This means that yes, you really could design monsters throughout 20 levels with the idea that there would only be a +1-2 bonus from a weapon without causing havoc with the game (not that 3.5 did this, instead at times it seemed they used a random number generator for AC values).

I think that's a good approach: would you like to have an honest to goodness +3 to hit this creature (not something offset behind the screen), or would you rather have extra fire damage/a chance to daze/expanded critical range/better DR penetration etc., etc.

That said, in my experience a lot of the time DMs would just throw a +5 sword into a treasure pile instead of something interesting. To get around that, I think there would have to be a robust, almost default core mechanic for characters to alter and improve their existing weapons without recourse to a wizard.

As for +X armor, that's a bit tougher. 3.5's armor enchantments weren't nearly as interesting as the weapons, and a + to a defence is far more valuable than a + to hit considering the effect of focus fire and the possibility of being invulnerable.


What do the rest of you think?  Would this be a good way to keep +X weapons and armor?  Or would you prefer we kept the classic approach?  Or get rid of +X weapons altogether?  Some other option I haven't thought of?  Discuss.


I've long advocated for taking the necessity of +X items out of the math, but leaving them in the game, and rearranging the way treasure is distributed so that you have about a 1/10000 chance of getting +5 weapons or armors. I want the math bonuses to exist, but I want them to actually be bonuses.

I actually prefer +X items over the supposedly more flavorful items. If i have a choice between a +1 longsword and a horn of blasting, I'll probably take the longsword.
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Thank_Dog wrote:

2Chlorobutanal wrote:
I think that if you have to argue to convince others about the clarity of something, it's probably not as objectively clear as you think.

No, what it means is that some people just like to be obtuse.

I've long advocated for taking the necessity of +X items out of the math, but leaving them in the game, and rearranging the way treasure is distributed so that you have about a 1/10000 chance of getting +5 weapons or armors.


Definately oppose. Random treasure generation is fine for video games, where you can grind and grind and grind to get the phat loot that makes your character work. It doesn't work for narrative games like tabletop RPGs.

And yes, I'm aware that random treasure existed in previous editions, and yes, I am saying that random treasure was a poor distribution method for them as well.
I wouldn't mind having +x weapons/armor in the game so long as they were an actual bonus, not actually needed.  I'd rather stick to the 4e system of only a single enchantment on a weapon ... and count a +x as an enchantment (probably no greater than +2).  So, a flaming sword would have various fiery abilities, but no bonus to hit, a +X weapon would have a bonus to hit, and that's all.

And definitely no random treasure.
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And definitely no random treasure.


But no "parcels" either.  So what does that leave?  The 1E DMG, with it's legit (albeit unlikely) method of rolling up an Artifact at any level is one extreme, but the parcels were a bit dry.  Something in the middle, maybe.  

Definately oppose. Random treasure generation is fine for video games, where you can grind and grind and grind to get the phat loot that makes your character work. It doesn't work for narrative games like tabletop RPGs.


It's always "worked" for us. We got so bored with the wishlist/parcel system in 4th we went back to random generation. I mean, really, always giving away useful stuff? Boring.
Here is reality, read and understand: Rangers aren't dull or underpowered, in any edition. Fighters aren't dull or underpowered, in any edition. Casters aren't "god mode" or overpowered, in any edition. The tarrasque isn't broken. And you aren't voicing your opinion by claiming otherwise, you're just being a pain. Now, stop complaining.
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Thank_Dog wrote:

2Chlorobutanal wrote:
I think that if you have to argue to convince others about the clarity of something, it's probably not as objectively clear as you think.

No, what it means is that some people just like to be obtuse.

But no "parcels" either.  So what does that leave?  The 1E DMG, with it's legit (albeit unlikely) method of rolling up an Artifact at any level is one extreme, but the parcels were a bit dry.  Something in the middle, maybe.  


Parcels were fine as a recommended means to distribute treasure. But, that's all it should have been: a recommendation. I just use it as a WBL guide, and I don't stick to the raw "this many +X level items." Sometimes it was out of necessity to give the party interesting things, as there are a few levels where there just weren't many good options for items. Other times, I really did just want to give out a bunch of low-ish level wondrous items for the players to mess with.

Really, WBL with some guidlines for distribution is all we need. Anything else can be a module. But, this is all getting away from +X items. So to bring it back on topic:

+X weapons are perfectly fine. They don't break the system, as the system can accomodate something that almost always hits. It's the +X armors that break the system, as the system cannot accomodate something that is very rarely or (in extreme cases) never hit as a matter of course.

It's always "worked" for us. We got so bored with the wishlist/parcel system in 4th we went back to random generation. I mean, really, always giving away useful stuff? Boring.


No different than a) not giving out the useless item anyway (if it cannot be sold) or b) giving out flat treasure (if it can be sold and exchanged for what is actually useful). All that you were doing was adding a layer of fluff between those two options.

But no, if I want to use a +5 sword, I should not have to play in 1000 campaigns and hope I get lucky on at least one of them to use it.
+X items should be gone completely. In their place, players get a flaming sword that changes all damage to fire damage. Weapons add new utility and abilities, not + to anything.

If you like the iconic-ness of a +3 sword, my solution would be to bring the idea back in the form of tiered items. A +1 sword is a sword with one of the following properties. A +2 has one of these, they are all better than a +1 sword.

Then the terminology of "+1 Sword" can be used as shorthand for treasure notes for the DM. "The treasure for this fight should include a +1 sword, +2 armor, and a magic lamp."

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I like +X items.
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If i have a choice between a +1 longsword and a horn of blasting, I'll probably take the longsword.



So would most other players. That's the problem.

They're too good and always have been. Which lead to them being incorporated into the math of the game and an integral part of it's leveling system.
I would drop the +X from accuracy.

I would have a weapon's +X be for damage only and armor's +X give damage reduction.

The problem here is that you can only drop the accuracy from a magic weapon when you say that armor no longer makes you harder to hit.


Yep.  That's why I would change +X for armor to damage reduction.  Symetrically matches up with the damage bonus for +X to weapons.



Not really. There is an opportunity cost for wearing heavy armor (slower speed, limited DEX bonus, penalties on skills.) In general, damage reduction doesn't scale well with levels unless weapon damage doesn't either. If weapon damage doesn't scale with level, then spell damage shouldn't either, unless it is offset with multiple attacks.
Magic items are not handouts in my games.

They are either made - bequeathed - or quested for.

+X items are never given out - I take the DMG 2's rewards concept. It is far superior for the story I, and my players, want to tell.

=========

Mundane items in my games have a more important role.
I'd like the next edition to have optional rules that keep the numbers balanced without having to deck every player character out with a full suit of increasingly more powerful magic equipment.  I think 4e managed it well enough.
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Standard hit bonus advancement should not be through items, but just inherent in leveling (the simple fact that say PC at level X should have y number of magical items is bonkers). Yes you can add story to a boring magical +1 weapon or armor but that's not the point. There's a rampant magical item inflation which in my mind is ridiculous. I'd rather have static bonuses and players find magical items that grant cool powers (such as the at will, encoutner, and daily item powers) and/or minor buffs and flavor elements. Thus the magical flaming sword has a free action to change your weapon damage for that turn to be fire type and can be used as a torch to light up to 5 spaces out from the PC.
Random treasure generation is fine for video games, where you can grind and grind and grind to get the phat loot that makes your character work. It doesn't work for narrative games like tabletop RPGs.

And yes, I'm aware that random treasure existed in previous editions, and yes, I am saying that random treasure was a poor distribution method for them as well.



Seems to me the superior option is for the books to have both a robust treasure parcel system and random treasure tables with a solid discussion of the pros and cons of each method.
Random treasure generation is fine for video games, where you can grind and grind and grind to get the phat loot that makes your character work. It doesn't work for narrative games like tabletop RPGs.

And yes, I'm aware that random treasure existed in previous editions, and yes, I am saying that random treasure was a poor distribution method for them as well.



Seems to me the superior option is for the books to have both a robust treasure parcel system and random treasure tables with a solid discussion of the pros and cons of each method.

Agreed.

I actually liked the random treasures in 2E.  It simulated a sandbox much better.  My characters would adjust to the magic item they found, much like I would have adjusted should it have happened to me.  It was fun playing the level or two, wielding the magical weapon that I was not proficient with, until I was able to learn how to wield it (take the proficiency).  It was very rewarding.

If it was an axe in the stone, rest assured that Arthur would have mastered the axe.

But the fact remains that there is room for both systems. 

Celebrate our differences.

Except in D&D he would've sold his Excalibur Axe in favor of the new Electric Sword he found two levels later.
Except in D&D he would've sold his Excalibur Axe in favor of the new Electric Sword he found two levels later.


Let's not idealise the legends too much. As I recall, the sword Arthur drew from the stone broke in a battle, which is why he had to go and get Excalibur from the Lady of the Lake. So even he upgraded.

And Beowulf's 'special sword', that he got from Unferth, explicitly sucked.

Z.
I like flavorful magic items. You should never need a +1 enchantment enhancing your offense or defense.

Maybe an epic or near-epic character might get a +1 weapon, which is flavorful for the legends around it rather than its capabilities... and look longingly at the flavorful utility of other magic weapons of the same level. 
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In my opinion, only up to +2 for a bonus, and make effects be the defining feature of magic items. Get rid of AC bonus items, limit defense/saves to a +2. With that in place, do not factor the bonuses in to the math. If you leave bonuses low and out of the math, heroes will be defined by their abilities more than their items. 4e wished it had done this, but failed as its math fails without having a + item, weapon, and armor at certain levels.

Leave the bonus a bonus, and that bonus be low unless an artifact.

I would rather have a flaming sword than a +1 or +2 sword, it has more flavor behind it, and that is something I miss from the prior editions that was lost in 4e.
In my opinion, only up to +2 for a bonus, and make effects be the defining feature of magic items. Get rid of AC bonus items, limit defense/saves to a +2. With that in place, do not factor the bonuses in to the math. If you leave bonuses low and out of the math, heroes will be defined by their abilities more than their items. 4e wished it had done this, but failed as its math fails without having a + item, weapon, and armor at certain levels. Leave the bonus a bonus, and that bonus be low unless an artifact. I would rather have a flaming sword than a +1 or +2 sword, it has more flavor behind it, and that is something I miss from the prior editions that was lost in 4e.



You do realize that every magic weapon or armor in every edition of D&D had plusses to hit/damage or armor class, right?  And that every edition of D&D has included vanilla +X items?
Eh I prefer the damage resistance/regen system to flat out saying a monster requires +x to hurt them.

You know a monster has regen 10 and resist 5, but say a silver weapon weakens, ignores or even turns off one or both of those. 

More flavor, more story, more chances to abuse my knowledge of mythology, and it reserves the option to drop a mountain on people. 



Actually i prefer it all simulataneously. Having different defenses for different creatures makes it so the PCs can't always have a 1 weapon show....hence +X items even are kept in chack as from time to time you'd need +X to hurt a creature. If there is only resistance to all damage then the characters are more than inclined to creature anti resistance weapons....can it be done even though the system doesn't have a write up for it? ...it sure can thats what magic is all about. So if the players can get gear made, it'd be a smaller measure to accomplish getting the right gear to harm everything. Instead of a sword +1, +3 vs lycanthropes it'll be a sword +1, (overcomes 10 to resist).  Theres no reason the players can't find a way around a creature's defenses if the game only represents a couple types at most. In fact it only makes more sense that studies in magic would push towards accomplishing the tasks of overcoming monster defenses if there was but a couple in existance.
I like flavorful magic items. You should never need a +1 enchantment enhancing your offense or defense.

Maybe an epic or near-epic character might get a +1 weapon, which is flavorful for the legends around it rather than its capabilities... and look longingly at the flavorful utility of other magic weapons of the same level. 



I agree with you somewhat  warrl. I like the idea that players would enjoy story elements, but can we honestly say that the player will utilize the legendary sword except in the case where it might prove to be politically advantageous or morale enhancing to a large army-an item built for an appropriate time-- (essentially an ornament until the advantages far outweigh the offsets) rather than using the weapon that nobody ever heard of from a deep dank cave that flames on command doing an extra 12d6 on every hit? The players will more than likely choose that which will enhance their character's chances of survival....the more powerful gear rather than a favouring-major-antiquity. Now although we might consider that some players are more inclined to think "story-like" rather than "presumably power oriented" but the characters in the dungeon should use that which is more powerful....they always should....their focus isn't primarily to go into a dangerous place simply to expose themselves to danger (at least most characters don't)...they go there to "win".
Personnaly, i think Armor don't have to increase the AC value, but only reduce damage. For example, a +4 Armor reduce the damage taken by 4.
As for the weapons, i think a +2 weapon increase by +2 both attack and damage, like on D&D 3.X.
The mechanical requirement for +X weapons and armors needs to die, and I think it will.  They have already stated that the math for DDN will be flatter.  This means every +1 will have a greater effect in DDN than it had in the past.

+X weapons and armors were just there to bloat the numbers.  They serve no other purpose than to say "you are not effective enough yet" if you don't have them.  In 2e they did this with +X required to hit, and it was factored into the math in 3e and 4e.  That's all it does.

In DDN, I'd like to see +X reduced to an absolute minimum.  I'd much rather have cool powers on my magic items than try to get excited about a +X item that I needed in order not to be gimped by the inherent math.

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.

 

You really shouldn't speak for others.  You can't hear what someone else is saying when you try to put your words in their mouth.

 

Fencing & Swashbuckling as Armor.

D20 Modern Toon PC Race.

Mecha Pilot's Skill Challenge Emporium.

 

Save the breasts.

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