So ... my DM doesn't let us buy items ... ever ... what do I do?

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This is kind of an odd question but I need some help. My DM (who I have played with over the past several years) has recently decided to do what he refers to as "de-monetizing" our campeign.

Basically what this boils down to is that we can no longer buy items. Instead he will be providing us with items he decides we should have. The concept is that when we raid a dungeon or defeat a boss he/she/it will provide us with loot which we can take or leave (selling items is also out). 

He gives 2 reasons for this. First is that, while some of our players look into item guides and what is provided in the player manuals, there are also those that don't. He feels like when he rewards us with loot those players who don't do their research just let all of that go to waste and as such drag down the team (since he bases the difficulty of fights and the like off of how powerful we should be within reason). Second, our DM is very big into RP and world continuity. He feels that our characters wouldn't really know about all of the different enchantments and items shown in the guides and as such wouldn't know to look for them. 

Normally I'm pretty chill about playing (because our DM is quite good), but I really enjoy the aspect of character building and the feeling I get when I pick out that item that is perfect for what I am trying to accomplish with my character.

If I could get any suggestions about how to convince him that he is incorrect with this idea, or reasons why I am wrong (so that I can justify this to myself), that would be much appreciated! 
This is kind of an odd question but I need some help. My DM (who I have played with over the past several years) has recently decided to do what he refers to as "de-monetizing" our campeign.

Basically what this boils down to is that we can no longer buy items. Instead he will be providing us with items he decides we should have. The concept is that when we raid a dungeon or defeat a boss he/she/it will provide us with loot which we can take or leave (selling items is also out). 

He gives 2 reasons for this. First is that, while some of our players look into item guides and what is provided in the player manuals, there are also those that don't. He feels like when he rewards us with loot those players who don't do their research just let all of that go to waste and as such drag down the team (since he bases the difficulty of fights and the like off of how powerful we should be within reason). Second, our DM is very big into RP and world continuity. He feels that our characters wouldn't really know about all of the different enchantments and items shown in the guides and as such wouldn't know to look for them. 

Normally I'm pretty chill about playing (because our DM is quite good), but I really enjoy the aspect of character building and the feeling I get when I pick out that item that is perfect for what I am trying to accomplish with my character.

If I could get any suggestions about how to convince him that he is incorrect with this idea, or reasons why I am wrong (so that I can justify this to myself), that would be much appreciated! 

Your DM has a very valid point about loot and how the difference in research and meta knowledge makes such a huge difference in players. He is right that just random treasure creates an imbalance with less knowledgable players. however he is taking his solution way too far, imo, and needs a more moderate solution to meet his needs.


The best is to tell the DM your concerns and offer some suggestions to reach his goals with more moderate solutions.

My biggest suggestion is that he divides the loot that is found into two different categories. Random loot (that can be sold and traded) and items that the DM selects for the characters. This allows players to customize their loot (with the random treasure) while making sure that every player has equipment that they need.

The second way to control treasure is to make items harder to buy. when I do this I use a random modifier, ussually 20% chance, that an item isn't available for sale or is more expensive. Or a chance that some items are unsalable, or just not valued highly (making it more worth it to keep and use said item then to sell it) The aim here is not to completely stop the players from buying what they want, but just to slow them down and give the DM time to ensure comparible items are found in treasure for other PCs.    
Part of the problem is that he has already tried the idea of dividing loot (and even at times offering to go buy players items if they didn't care to look). In the end he wasn't a fan. We haven't tried the second option though.
What version of the game are you playing?  It can have some bearing on the question.

My general reaction is that the DM can make available whatever items he thinks a player might want for his character - but it is not the DM's character to be making decisions for.  Has the DM stooped so low as to actually ASK what the player wants for his character and why he wants it?  Doesn't sound like it.  Sounds as if the DM has a FIRMLY FIXED idea of what characters he wants in the game, what he wants them to be able to do, what he wants them to do PERIOD.  THAT IS NOT HIS JOB.

Unless the distribution of treasure is causing genuine disruption (and NO, a character simply being unoptimized, though much to the DM's consternation, is NOT disruption) then the DM should keep his fat nose out of deciding FOR THE PLAYERS what their characters want, and will be permitted to possess or not possess in order to make them what HE wants them to be.  Boy does he ever misunderstand his intended role at the table.

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What version of the game are you playing?  It can have some bearing on the question

 

We are playing 4th edition.  

 
Has the DM stooped so low as to actually ASK what the player wants for his character and why he wants it?

 

No. In fact I've already talked to him about that idea. I suggested that if a player knew what he/she wanted then they could let him know and he could work it in to the loot but he didn't seem to like that idea. 

I guess part of what bothers me is that he never asked any of us what we think about this. I understand that DM's must make decisions at times because either the game is broken or something doesn't seem to work right, but it seems like changing something that's this integral to the system is stepping over this boundary a tad much, or am I wrong in that feeling? 
(I understand that I may be wrong, I just want to try to justify this in my mind if I am so that it stops bothering me).
Get your DM to play with Inherent Bonuses if he's playing a low-items game.  Items are a key part of the game maths, you need them for the game to work correctly.  If he's not giving them out, and not giving you a means to replace their position in the maths, he's Doing It Wrong.

Playing without items is possible, and can be very cool (Dark Sun ahoy), but you NEED to replace them, or the maths break down.
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he could do what i do where a shop has preselected magical items within in based on my luck rolls and how big the town is. but no matter where they are there is a chance they can not get something they want. like i have a list of 100 shops and roll a d 12 to decide how many of the shops will be in the town. if they have no specialty stores that involve armour or weapons or anything magical at all the odds are quite low. now if they have a shop that is for a specific weapon or armour type i give them good odds with certain rules. the big one is that they can never buy a magical item that is higher level than they are.

this seems to work and even the best odds of finding something they want is no promise that they will have it. a big place like the size of a kingdom with a shop that specializes in say staffs for the wizard who wants a new staff they still have to roll a d10 to see if the shop has it. 1-9 it does 0 sorry try again.

although once or twice i have had a shop keep offer a reward of a high level item for a side quest but that was mostly when i was still learning how to manage giving out loot and their armour was sadly undergeared.

and the other exception with my party is that i let them buy potions of vitality because of the fact that their healer went into for want of a better term a coma and was taken away by an npc ally who they do not know where he went to they have no healer and even though they are level 11-13 i let them get that potion from some shops even though it is limited supplies.
I will try with the inherent bonuses idea. I think part of the problem though is that he isn't nessecarily trying to play a low items game, he just got fed up with people buying items poorly.

In the best case scenario I'm just trying to convince him that, even though some players aren't good about spending their loot properly, its more unnacceptable to punish the players that are good at it because the others aren't. Partially because using the lowest common denominator is a poor choice for getting something done, and also because by taking that away it prevents the other players from ever needing to learn how to play that part of the game. 

One of the reasons I'm asking for help is that my DM also happens to be my best friend. While I love playing D&D I value the friendship more (and I think if I stopped playing with them he might take it personally). In a perfect world I would like to be able to maintain that and be able to enjoy the game to its fullest but I understand that may not be possible.  
Its really a campaign world choice how the magic item economy works.  Personally, I have never liked the idea that characters can go "back to town" and start trading items that cost more than the life income of a commoner in the local shop.  If such an economy existis, it should be riddled with mad wizards, demon princes, Efreet merchants from the City of Brass, and long, dangerous journies.  Anything more than a +1 item or some potions or scrolls shound not just be lying around "in a shop".  After all, by the time you can buy that +3 to +4 item, the serious question of why you would, rather than using the money to retire in comfort, comes up.

A solution that I have used in campaigns before is to ask players for a "wish list".   Basically, what items would you like to see show up for the character.  It gives the GM control (veto power, choice of when the item comes into the game) but still allows the player to have substantial input into their gear.  It also allows for players who either don't care or aren't very good at choosing gear/character design to just sit back and let the the DM give them gear that he thinks is a good choice for them.

Edit- there is still the question of what you can do with gear once you are done with it, which I think is why 4th ed has the rediculous rules about selling for a tiny percentage of the buy cost.  I once did a campaign where I let let character basically re-enchant their gear (homebrew rules using power crystals) as they went along, rather than switching out gear every few levels.
Step one: Invest in Ritual Caster

Step two: Buy Enchant Magic Item

Step three: Buy Disenchant Magic Item

Step four: Continue enjoying your game 

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Dilige, et quod vis fac

Step one: Invest in Ritual Caster

Step two: Buy Enchant Magic Item

Step three: Buy Disenchant Magic Item

Step four: Continue enjoying your game 



Cohen95, the OP says that there isn't any buying PERIOD...which means they can't buy ritual books.

To the OP, have you talked to the other players on how they feel about this? If the majority of them dislike it, then you should all sit down, either before, after, or on a different day than yer game, and discuss this with the DM.  Let him know that the players don't like it(if that's the majority) and discuss ways to change it so everyone is happy.

If the majority don't care or like the new system?  Then I'm sorry, but yer gonna haveta either bear with it, or sit down with yer friend the DM, and tell him that while the other players are ok with it, that it's ruining yer fun, and as such you can't play the game anymore.  Do so politely, and stress that it shouldn't affect yer friendship, and you'll gladly hop back in the moment a new game starts where you can buy items again.
Its really a campaign world choice how the magic item economy works.  Personally, I have never liked the idea that characters can go "back to town" and start trading items that cost more than the life income of a commoner in the local shop.  If such an economy existis, it should be riddled with mad wizards, demon princes, Efreet merchants from the City of Brass, and long, dangerous journies.  Anything more than a +1 item or some potions or scrolls shound not just be lying around "in a shop".  After all, by the time you can buy that +3 to +4 item, the serious question of why you would, rather than using the money to retire in comfort, comes up.



I agree with the whole flavour killing aspect of not having what are essentially major artefacts lying around in Yee Olde Shoppe but there are guidelines for this. Players will not be able to find items above a certain value "For Sale" and equally will not find enough gold available to sell high value items anywhere other than major cities. Every good DM that I have ever played with does not describe the place you purchase the item as "Yee Olde Shoppe" but as one of the things you mentioned.

In Waterdeep my DM had there be a major Wizard's Guild rumoured to be run by one of the masked lords. They could construct/sell just about any item you wanted but he really sold it. The building was a vast tower dozens of stories tall made of what seemed like pure ivory, sprouting multiple turrets from every side. Eldritch fire, burned in various windows and there was a constant corona of lightning and flame about it's ramparts. You were not met at the door by a shop keep, instead there were two iron golems flanking a welcoming comitee of bound outsiders dressed in the guild's livery. Anyone there on important business (read, making a large enough purchase) was waited on hand and foot by unseen servants and captive spirits. Buying something from this place was not gamey because it is realistic (relatively speaking) that a city like Waterdeep would have something like this. Now if the same thing was found in a town of only a couple thousand people, unless there was a damn good flavour reason, then yes, that would be a fairly serious break with in-game realism.

Think of swords scaling up to magic swords and artefacts like guns scaling up to tanks and cruise missiles. An economy exists for cruise missiles. It's just not found at your local Gun Shop. If a PC rocks up at a suitable location such as aforementioned Ivory Tower and wants to buy a +3 flaming burst, sanctified Greatsword they should expect a lot of attention both welcome and unwelcome as they have basically just walked into an arms convention and announced they want to buy a battle-tank. PCs should be able to buy that stuff with their loot, they just shouldn't be unrestricted in what/how they buy.

What Renthar described is not a good way to deal with this problem though. You find a nice bit of kit that doesn't fit with what you want to do with your character and there's no way to sell it? Sorry? Do all the PCs suddenly start to smell when they go near a merchant? What kind of possible RP reason could there be for something like that? Something like that would really jar for me as a player. There's just no justifiable reason for it other than "It's a game" which strikes at the very root of tabletop roleplaying.

  After all, by the time you can buy that +3 to +4 item, the serious question of why you would, rather than using the money to retire in comfort, comes up.



Because you're a hero, people need saving, the world is still in danger, and all that?
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  After all, by the time you can buy that +3 to +4 item, the serious question of why you would, rather than using the money to retire in comfort, comes up.



Because you're a hero, people need saving, the world is still in danger, and all that?

I don't think he was refering to the PCs. They are per definition crazy ;) They are the minority though, while for the readily availability of high level magic items to make sense you need a lot more than a handful of people - especially since profit margins for the crafters seem remarkably slim (for the resellers on the other hand...

As for the OP, is it really that bad? I mean, when I look at my own campaign most of the players really don't like spending time on magic items. They actually asked me to do it for them. The one or two players who do care, provide me with wish lists and I will find a way to include it in a way that makes sense. Wouldn't your DM accept something similar?
  After all, by the time you can buy that +3 to +4 item, the serious question of why you would, rather than using the money to retire in comfort, comes up.



Because you're a hero, people need saving, the world is still in danger, and all that?

I don't think he was refering to the PCs. They are per definition crazy ;) They are the minority though, while for the readily availability of high level magic items to make sense you need a lot more than a handful of people - especially since profit margins for the crafters seem remarkably slim (for the resellers on the other hand...

As for the OP, is it really that bad? I mean, when I look at my own campaign most of the players really don't like spending time on magic items. They actually asked me to do it for them. The one or two players who do care, provide me with wish lists and I will find a way to include it in a way that makes sense. Wouldn't your DM accept something similar?

 

I've tried to sell him on that idea and for a while thats what we did but he seems to not like that idea. This thread has given me lots of ideas though so please keep them coming. 

Part of my problem is that I've never played D&D with another DM (just because I haven't found any) so I wasn't sure if this was the norm or if this was a change that didn't happen often. 

Now my DM doesn't know about this thread, do you all think it would be a good idea to show him and see what he thinks of all of this, or should I try to persuade him on my own?

I'm not sure I get it.  If I understand the situation correctly, the DM is frustrated that some of the players can't/won't/don't optimize their items, which making it harder for the DM to balance encounters.  And optimizing items for those players is becoming too much of a hassle, so he just wants to nix items altogether? 

Inherent bonuses were already suggested, so how about this for a radical suggestion.  Do the exact opposite.  No, really.  Elect one of the players who doesn't mind handling items to become the party's item crafter and supplying the less savvy players with appropriate gear, and replace more of the item rewards with crafting reagents.  In general, distributing tasks is a great way of lightening a DM's load and getting players more involved.  And in this particular case, it would take much of the burden of item distribution off of the DM's shoulders.  As well, coming up with interesting description for reagents and quest hooks for recipes and whatnot can be great RP fodder. 

And as for this inevitable counter:

Second, our DM is very big into RP and world continuity. He feels that our characters wouldn't really know about all of the different enchantments and items shown in the guides and as such wouldn't know to look for them.



I would argue that makes more sense that the characters would know about magic items.  If not specific enchantments, at least a decent working knowledge of possible enchantments.  Unless your DM's setting goes significantly against the grain, the characters do live in a world of magic and sorcery, and the influence of magic pervades the histories of kingdoms both current and past. 

Arcana would be the go-to for item knowledge in general since not only does it govern magical knowledge in general, it is the key skill that governs the Enchant Item ritual.  Followed closely by History for items with notable histories (the Adventure Vaults give lots of examples of items with significant lore behind them), as well as Religion and Nature, obviously.

And many items would even need specialized knowledge to be aware of their existences; At least enough to seek them out.  Even a child can figure out "Wizards casts fire.  Wizards enchant stuff.  Therefore, wizards can enchant stuff to be on fire!" Many items follow (and were probably originally conceived with) a similar line of reasoning.
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A solution that I have used in campaigns before is to ask players for a "wish list".   Basically, what items would you like to see show up for the character.  It gives the GM control (veto power, choice of when the item comes into the game) but still allows the player to have substantial input into their gear.  It also allows for players who either don't care or aren't very good at choosing gear/character design to just sit back and let the the DM give them gear that he thinks is a good choice for them.



This

Also the DM might also be more understanding if the players are good at selecting gear could help the players that are not.
      

+1 to the wishlist idea. My dm used to just do random loot generation but it doesn't really pan out at all. Him picking items for players just sounds wrong in my opinion. we've been using wishlists for half a year now and its great (though now we have an artificer in the part so the dm gives out residuim instead of gold most of the time and random items again).
I wouldn't say it's *wrong* for a DM to choose what loot goes out. No more *wrong* than it is for players to expect to pick and choose their gear.
Just a different type of game. Personally, I like the random loot drops.

However, the OP clearly preferes to choose his items and should see if the rest of the game feels the same way.
And, if the DM is really starving players for good magical items, then he should at least adjust the monsters accordingly.
@house88

I don't think its wrong for the DM to pick rewards, but he's also removed the way for players to cannabalize items they think are poor into items they would prefer (demonitized game).
ask your DM to consider player requests.

for example, tell your DM that you'd like to see a flaming weapon, or a quicksilver weapon, or whatever, and trust him to consider the request and put it in if he deems it appropriate.

if, however, one of the characters decides to paragon path into morninglord and suddenly all the players ask for sunblades, i'd expect the dm to laugh at you and just continue with other loot.

I have 4 people in my current game, 2 of them put no effort into looking at items, 1 of them knows what his character could use well, and the other knows most of the magic items that exist and exactly which feats and combinations to use to turn some of them into hugely over-effective weapons.  I tend to provide a mix of money, ritual components (one of the characters is an artificer with enchant magic item), and weapons well suited to certain characters.

If you have players who gravitate towards frostcheese twinstrikers or radiant mafia morninglords or perma-prone knights, then i'm not surprised that the DM is doing this and i wouldn't expect him to change.  If, on the other hand, you just have some lazy players who don't give a crap about magic items and just choose whatever they see, then the DM will probably be open to bending the rules, assuming he doesn't mind doing the work to help the party just happen to come across good items for the players who don't look thru magic items.
I read through some of replies to this thread but not all so I apologize if I am repeating something that was already posted.

I can see his point of your characters not being able to know all the available itmes and equpment that might be available in the world and the meta gaming aspect of going shopping.

I think one way he can take the "meta gaming shopping" out is to make a specific inventory list of what each merchant might have available in their own shops, and maybe even roll percentiles on some of the harder to find items.