Legends and Lore: Magic Items in D&D Next

Legends and Lore:
Magic Items in D&D Next
by Mike Mearls

Magic items have played a role in D&D throughout the years, and this week Mike takes a look at what the team is planning to do for D&D Next.

Talk about this column here.
 
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This means WotC will create magical items instead of us DMs. It's no harm at all. As long as we keep the power to create new magical weapons still.

The last part is the best I think. Secret magical uses of weapons are very nicely thought. Players will feel more special with their magical weapons.
This is exactly how magic items should work, and I'm excited to see how this plays out.
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The parts about magic items being mysterious, etc., are awesome. I hated the 4e item grind as much as anyone, and I like the idea of swords and armor having stories behind them.

Unfortunately, other parts of the article are...well, awful.

First, we don't assume magic items are part of a character's abilities.



We want magic items to make you strictly better



So, basically, the characters are strictly better when they have magic items, but there are no hard-coded guidelines for who gets magic items. Congratulations: you've just handed GMs a tool to play favorites, and hard-coded imbalance into the system.
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I personally prefer the unique item approach of AD&D to one that is a shopping list of qualities of 3E as its simpler to understand and use even though the latter is easier to customize and has more flexibility.

And they seem to go for a very flavorful approach too. THUMBS UP   
They need to shoot the +X items in the head because if they exist in the system players will always lust after them because they are mathematically demonstratable as by far the superior item.

It also completely breaks the concept of bounded accuracy.
They need to shoot the +X items in the head because if they exist in the system players will always lust after them because they are mathematically demonstratable as by far the superior item.

It also completely breaks the concept of bounded accuracy.



Yeah, I was going to say, the article would be much better if they'd just said - "we've eliminated +X magic items." Gorgon Armor and Sunder Rock Mace are more magical and wouldn't necessarily break bounded accuracy in the same way. 

 
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On the positive side, I actually really like the idea of tables of minor flavor abilities that have no effect whatsoever on any important aspect of the game, but provide bits of flavor for the item, and maybe the occasional minor utility (after all, it never hurts to know there's a demon in the area!).

I'll even go so far as to say I like the theory behind the magic items given as examples, where they have a mix of utility and combat increasing.


That said, I'm echoing  Rey's concerns that having absolutely no guidelines for magic item progression or growth is asking for a lot of trouble. Even if players can compete at high levels without magic items, they will still want them, and likely feel cheated if they don't get them-ESPECIALLY if someone else in the group does have them.

As an aside, is it just me or have we not seen any examples of magic items given other than weapons and armor? Are we still going to have magic rings, belts, bracers, gloves, hats, etc? Because if only weapons and armor can be enchanted, at least that could lend credence to the idea of "Fighters get their cool things through magic items only they can use".
On a related topic, I want “core” healing to be more subtle, including magic items that heal.

There seems only three options for healing in the combat aspect of D&D.

• Dependence on a heal-bot, the Cleric, also other classes, like Druid and Bard.
• Dependence on magic items, like Healing Potions, Cure Wands, Regeneration Rings.
• Dependence on natural healing, like full healing during rests.

All of these options have odious consequences.

• Addiction to the heal-bot interferes with roleplay.
• Addiction to magic items, interferes with setting - and breaks game math.
• Addiction to quasi-superhuman natural healing, from almost dead to suddenly “I got better”, interferes with suspension of disbelief.


I want all of these healing options to be available in core, but all of them to be subtle. So none of them are the “optimal” addiction.

Assuming a variety of healing methods is the most interesting narratively, and the least gamey mechanically.



Regarding healing spells and magic items, presto-healing (instant excessive healing) should typically not exist, being rare andor epic. Similar to resurrection from the dead, it exists but is “challenging” to access. Normally healing spells and items are the following.

• Mostly “enhancements” of rest benefits.
• “Vigor” (temp hp).
• Slow regeneration, like 1 hp of healing per ability bonus per round during combat.
• A spell or item cannot stack with itself. So heroes cant guzzle healing potions like Pac-Man pills. Each potion and or healing spell must complete its full effect and wear off (like after a 1-hour rest) before the next potion or spell can be effective.

With normally subtle methods, dramatic pretso-healing can be rare andor epic in core. Dependence on heal-bot spells or on item effects are highly problematic for many players. If all methods are subtle and non-stacking, heroes will tend to employ numerous methods, giving the healing strategy and tactics.



It is fine if modular options exist, to make healing presto. One module can allow multiple Cleric healing spells to stack (thus allow presto healing), or an abundance of healing potions to stack (perhaps for high-magic settings like Eberron), or total healings during sleep (for 4e style).

But core can be more modest about healing. The ideal sweet spot is when a multiplicity of healing methods combine to heal effectively according to the gaming math. Meanwhile, no specific healing method is a “cure-all” panacea. Avoid addiction to gamey-ness.
At first glance, it seems contradictory to say that magic items improve your character, but that they don't need to be included in the balance math. I guess the idea is that they don't make you so much better that the game breaks. If the max bonus is +3, then maybe the nominal design is for +1.5. So playing with items or without, the difference would be too significant. All those interesting powers will make a difference too, though.

There's two issues, really. First, could a character with no items play in a game with one with items and still feel effective. I think this would be pretty difficult to do without giving the itemless character some bonuses or special abilities. Second would be if a group with no items could enjoy the same adventure as a group with items. This seems doable to me.

I hope that they look at magic items which improve as you level, like the 3e legacy items. I liked that idea, though the execution was a bit wonky.
This means WotC will create magical items instead of us DMs. It's no harm at all. As long as we keep the power to create new magical weapons still.



You're a DM.  You already possess whatever amount of power you need. 
Please, do not use *money* to fail to balance the math of gaming mechanics.

Only *mechanics* can balance mechanics.



The money is a flavor decision about the adventure setting. A post-apocalyptic survival setting will have little or no money. Oppositely, a setting where the heroes are aristocrats in a utopian city of magic, will have endless money, one way or another. Allow any setting to be possible without letting “money” screw up game mechanics.



Mike Mearls mentions: “First, we don't assume magic items are part of a character's abilities. The math behind the system assumes that you receive only the specific abilities and bonuses granted by your character class and race. At this stage, we do assume that characters upgrade from one type of mundane armor to the next.”



So far so good. I like the idea of advanced mundane armor.



However ...
 
Mike: “For instance, a fighter might *afford* chainmail at 1st level. Later on, that fighter can *afford* banded armor, and then plate. Other than armor, the game lacks any other equipment that we expect you to *purchase* as a strict upgrade.”

“... But we'll rely on feedback to ensure that any sort of expected upgrade isn't irritating.”
 


So here is my feedback. Please dont use money to break the gaming math.

Money creates vicious circles (money makes me more powerful, therefore I use my powers to get more money). Using money to destroy balance of leveling mechanics, invites distortive gamey behaviors that can ruin the game.



At this point, its probably best to assume all “core” armors are equally viable with advantages and disadvantages for each fighting-style. Alternative substandard armors are just that, substandard.

Masterwork armors are defacto the same thing as magic armors, and have the same rarity that magic items do, because the advanced technological techniques of masterworks are just as precious as arcane secrets.

Actually, all “vanilla bonuses” to attacks andor defenses should, by definition be mundane masterworks. Then only the interesting “mysterious” effects of magic items are, by definition, magic.



[Edit]

Below, it seems best to coordinate bonuses with tiers.

+1 is a masterwork that is appropriate for local heroes (levels 0 to 9).
+2 is a masterwork that is appropriate for international heroes (levels 10 to 19).
+3 is an artifact that is epic and appropriate for multiversal heroes (levels 20 and up).


The point here is, these bonuses require mechanical limitations to benefit from them, not monetary limitations.
 
A hero below level 10 simply cannot benefit more than +1, even if the masterwork item itself is +3.
A hero below level 20 simply cannot benefit more than +2.
And so on.

The narrative rationale is: So what if the item is better?

I can have a crappy poolstick to play pool, or the finest olympic poolstick. I am simply not practiced enough in the game to actually benefit from the subtle benefits that the olympic poolstick offers. The poolstick would have to be ridiculous for me to notice an impairment of my game. Note, my pool game is decent, just not amazing.

Similarly, the best tennis racket in the world wont actually make me a better tennis player. Nor expensive sneakers make me play basketball better.

On the other hand, there are other sports where I would benefit from superior equipment.  



So, a level-4 hero with a +2 sword, still only applies +1 to attack rolls. For unique game-changing artifacts, the DM might choose to override this limitation to apply the full +2 of the sword. But generally, it is *mechanics* that balance mechanics.
So, basically, the characters are strictly better when they have magic items, but there are no hard-coded guidelines for who gets magic items. Congratulations: you've just handed GMs a tool to play favorites, and hard-coded imbalance into the system.



A tool that I'll point out they've always had....

Remember, as a GM everything in your game world yields & answers to you.  Even the rules.  Even in 4e.  
As an aside, is it just me or have we not seen any examples of magic items given other than weapons and armor? Are we still going to have magic rings, belts, bracers, gloves, hats, etc? Because if only weapons and armor can be enchanted, at least that could lend credence to the idea of "Fighters get their cool things through magic items only they can use".



YES, there'll be all kinds of magic items, not just armor/weapons.


Mike:Likely our bonuses will top out at +3. Bonuses beyond that might become the domain of artifacts or unique, powerful weapons. We want magic items to make you strictly better, rather than allow you to keep pace with the game, but we need to determine how much better they can make you. If they are too good, they can overshadow the abilities you gain from your class and race.”


Yay!



Mike: “The magic items [are now] shifting the design approach of wondrous items to the rest of the system”.



Yay, again!    

In a game where the main fighting classes get +20 to hit for free, a +5 weapon give you 1/4 of the power of the most power fighting class. 


In a game with bounded accuracy (aka, the fighting classes will get +2~+4 to hit in the last level), a +3 weapon will turn you into a primary warrior. 


Please, kill the +X weapons with fire. 

[<()>]Proud Brazilian. Typos are free bonuses. 

Please, kill the +X weapons with fire. 




+1



The +3 bonus itself should mean unique epic artifacts.

A +1 masterwork is appropriate enough for local heroes (levels 0 to 9).
A +2 masterwork is appropriate for international heroes (levels 10 to 19).
A +3 artifact is epic for multiversal heroes (levels 20 to 29).




Probably magic item bonuses to attack and defense should not stack. 

Magic items like Bracers of Archery or Broach of Defense (or whatever) should never give vanilla bonuses to attack or defense. Instead they can do interesting things, like extend reach, or grant resistance to the “piercing damage type”, or so on.
I must say limiting most weapons and armors to +3 enhancement is a judicuous choice that i like Wink

  
I'll echo Reyemile and Seerow: Please, include guidelines for handling Magic Items. Have the decency to at least organize them by power and/or abstractness.
It is fine if modular options exist, to make healing presto. One module can allow multiple Cleric healing spells to stack (thus allow presto healing), or an abundance of healing potions to stack (perhaps for high-magic settings like Eberron), or total healings during sleep (for 4e style).

But core can be more modest about healing. The ideal sweet spot is when a multiplicity of healing methods combine to heal effectively according to the gaming math. Meanwhile, no specific healing method is a “cure-all” panacea. Avoid addiction to gamey-ness.



You want a grittier game then THAT'S going to be the module, I can guarantee it.  Just look at the playtest, both clerics can heal.  That isn't going to change.  It's how D&D has always been.  Every.  Single.  Edition.

I'm not against people playing it with grittier mechanics, mind you, but it is unrealistic to expect them to change the default mechanic to something gritty.

I think there are some easy ways to have houserules for grittiness that keep healing as it is.  The key is to make it so that HP is really just energy, staying power, and luck.  Losing that doesn't mean you were hit, but that you that much closer to really getting hurt.  Healing the real injuries after you've gone through your HP can then be difficult.

That said, I did like Healing Surges in 4E.  That made things nice and simple for healing.  It also made healing effects more universal.  Earlier editions always had the odd thing where Cure Light Wounds would fully heal a commoner -- even if the poor sap had critical wounds for him, but hardly make a dent in the damage of a 20th level warrior.
Please avoid dependence on the 24-hour cycle, “per day” mechanic. Remove “per day” from the D&D game.

Instead use mechanics like “per 1-hour rest”. This allows vancian casters to keep up with relentless atwill-only classes (like Fighter). Thus it allows vancian classes to balance with nonvancian classes, regardless of the number encounters that an adventure story requires per day. There are about 288 potential encounters per day, when the party can be ambushed. About 100 of these encounters are when the team is fully rested and pressing on. All “per day” mechanics fail to accommodate fluid narrative scenarios. Eliminating the “per day” mechanic is the only way to end the 5-minute workdays once and for all.

If a Wizard exausts all the best “per day” spells, then instead of leaving the adventure, the Wizard can instead spend a 1-hour rest to re-prepare all spells, and continue the adventure with nonvancian classes. It would be cool if nonvancian classes have cool things to do during this 1-hour rest too. Maybe a Fighter can meditate to gain an advantage to avoid surprise in the next encounter. Or sharpen or otherwise polish and upkeep weapons for extra damage on the first attack. Eat a meal to curb fatigue. Or so on.

At the same time, a DM who needs to can easily interrupt the Wizard prep, by hostiles attacking the Wizard during this 1-hour. So, the 1-hour spell prep isnt necessarily automatic, if the players (both DM and heroes) want to heighten resource management.
They need to shoot the +X items in the head because if they exist in the system players will always lust after them because they are mathematically demonstratable as by far the superior item.

It also completely breaks the concept of bounded accuracy.


     That is a virtue in my view.  Bonded accuracy is going to produce a dull game that gives the players no incentive to keep coming back to play again.
     We are going to have mysterious magic, which seems to mean broken, and magic item back grounds, which nobody pays any attention to?  The game may be playable, but I don't see it being played.
Please, no “immunities”. Immunities destroy, destroy, player fun.

For example, “immunity to mental effects” ruins the game for Phantasmal Illusionists, Enchanter/Telepaths, Intimidator specialists, and so on. “Immunity to backstab” ruins the game for Rogues. Ruins the game.



Have resistances, advantages, bonuses, “reactions” that may or may not succeed. But no “immunities”.

Even extreme fire can put out fire.

Even an automaton like a golem, if able to interact with the environment at all, has some minimal degree of preceptive “sentience”, that is vulnerable to mental attacks.
I'll echo Reyemile and Seerow: Please, include guidelines for handling Magic Items. Have the decency to at least organize them by power and/or abstractness.



Echo-ing the Echo.

Having bonuses is ca-ray-zee.  The math is looking a bit troubled as it is.

About the max AC you can get with the playtest would be an AC of 20 (ignoring dex 20 rogues with armor and a heavy shield as that's weird).  Ok, that's not bad.  Kobolds have a +3 to hit, so they'll hit 20% of the time.  Kobolds would still be a threat at higher levels with that max, even if their damage is piddly.

Add a +3 item, and Kobolds only hit on a 20.  So every hit is a critical -- which makes criticals strange, but no matter.  We'll assume that no shields have bonuses or that such bonuses don't stack.

But now we have very little room for characters to naturally improve on their own.  If they gain merely +3 AC over 20 levels...well, now the AC is 26.  Ogres only hit on a 20 (the best guys in the playtest bestiary, tied with some others).  The Medusa would only hit on a 20 at AC 25.

I do not like this.  I do not like this.  I do not like this.

I've got a better idea anyhow.  Items that can give the advantage to you or disadvantage to your enemy on a limited basis.  That doesn't break the above curve and provides protection.  Or how about a suit of armor that gives you 10 bonus hit points every battle, or 20, or 30?  That provides protection, but doesn't break bounded accuracy.  I could see a weapon having a flat bonus, but ONLY with limited uses per day/encounter.  The Black Arrow in The Hobbit could be considered an example of this for a bow user, that could even be a +5 arrow that can be retrieved after combat.  Cool and useful, without breaking the general curve.  Or heck, it could just be a weapon that does damage on a miss.

There are so many ways to give mechanical benefits and hindrances without resorting to +X to your d20 roll or +X to your defense against that other guy's d20 roll (called "AC" by some).

I do like the minor/other abilities a lot.  I hope the tables are good for generating them along a theme.

Oh, and I also don't like how all this will make attack rolls and AC further and further away from ability checks.  It's nice to have them more or less equatable just in case you want to use them to oppose each other.  Well, that was not without problems before, but unworkable with this plan on magic items.
One of the biggest problems with 4e is too many conditional/situational bonuses. I have one hero who has about 20 situational bonuses that come into play every encounter. Some activate for attack, some for damage, some for both, some activate when I hit, some when I miss, some when near, some when far, and so on and so on. I literally never have two rounds in a row that have the same bonus to attack or defense. Confirming and disconfirming each and every bonus, and recalculating the shifting sands of bonuses every round, is highly unpleasant.


  
Here, a 5e “Wand of Unquenchable Fire” would *situationally* add a bonus to attacks if and when using fire spells. Unless magic bonuses to attack and damage simply cannot stack, too many of these become unfun.
Last response to the Legends-and-Lore article, directly.



The flavorful “special abilities” that depend on the items narrative, “its creation, history, and place in the world”, sound awesome.



This kind of DM-specific treasure information should be in a separate “Treasury” book, the books that catalogue magic items and special services, in the tradition of the Adventurers Vaults, the Emporiums, and so on.

Meanwhile, all the information in the DM Guide and the Players Handbook can combine into a single book: the D&D Rulebook. Or maybe call this rulebook the “Compendium” in the D&D tradition.

The Compendium makes starting a D&D game simple and obvious for newbies. There is only one book that the newbies need to purchase, the Compendium. It would be helpful if “starter boxes” include the Compendium, one level-1 adventure, plus basic accessories like dice, battlemap, and tokens.

The players should read the DM content in the Compendium, especially how to run combats, how to orchestrate narratives, and so on. On one hand, they can do so simply to understand and appreciate the game. Even better, they can take turns being the DM. The more DMs there are, the faster D&D itself can gain even larger numbers of players.

Privy information, such as surprise monsters or magic items, can be in separate books like the Bestiary and the Treasury.

Setting books should probably belong especially to the DM. New classes and races that the setting will feature can be in future volumes of the Compendium.



All-in-all, this Legends-and-Lore about magic items is awesome. At the same time, D&D has plenty of mechanics that deserve worrying about!
First, could a character with no items play in a game with one with items and still feel effective.

Yeah, thats the goal to strive for.

As has already been mentioned, I really do not see the need to have a +1 to +3 bonus for items.  Have "tough" armour that gives a +1, have an "accurate" weapon that gives a +1, but there is no need for any bonuses beyond that in a bounded accuracy system.  If the DM wants an artifact with a higher value then thats fine, but having +1 to +3 will just have players fdropping effects for a bigger bonus.
 
It is fine if modular options exist, to make healing presto. One module can allow multiple Cleric healing spells to stack (thus allow presto healing), or an abundance of healing potions to stack (perhaps for high-magic settings like Eberron), or total healings during sleep (for 4e style).

But core can be more modest about healing. The ideal sweet spot is when a multiplicity of healing methods combine to heal effectively according to the gaming math. Meanwhile, no specific healing method is a “cure-all” panacea. Avoid addiction to gamey-ness.



You want a grittier game then THAT'S going to be the module, I can guarantee it.  Just look at the playtest, both clerics can heal.  That isn't going to change.  It's how D&D has always been.  Every.  Single.  Edition.

I'm not against people playing it with grittier mechanics, mind you, but it is unrealistic to expect them to change the default mechanic to something gritty.

I think there are some easy ways to have houserules for grittiness that keep healing as it is.  The key is to make it so that HP is really just energy, staying power, and luck.  Losing that doesn't mean you were hit, but that you that much closer to really getting hurt.  Healing the real injuries after you've gone through your HP can then be difficult.

That said, I did like Healing Surges in 4E.  That made things nice and simple for healing.  It also made healing effects more universal.  Earlier editions always had the odd thing where Cure Light Wounds would fully heal a commoner -- even if the poor sap had critical wounds for him, but hardly make a dent in the damage of a 20th level warrior.

I want *enough* healing. Just no heal-bots in core. Nor any potion chugging in core.



The thing is, 
• I hate hate hate heal-bots, and despise the Cleric monopoly on healing. (And I even like playing Clerics sometimes.)
• Other players hate hate hate when rests grant full healing. 
• Yet other players hate hate hate the “Christmas tree effect” where the magic items become more important than the class abilities of the hero who wears them.

Moreover, players will come to hate 5e potions of healing, because they will literally destroy the math behind the game.


 
The methods of healing that become default in core, need to be as neutral as possible, and as accommodating as possible to the different play styles.
* Magic item is a great headache to get the right power balance. Some worlds like Dark Sun aren´t to usual and other like Eberron is all the opposite.

Some magic item could be created by PCs but XPs are spent when are used, not when are created..(I say the fighter who is using a lot of healing potions doesn´t exploit spellcaster craftmen. I say XPs but it could spent actions points or willpower points like from Storytelling System. (Those willpower points could be rewards by a good roleplaying, for exampel the aligment and the allegiance or the flas/anti-feats).

* Other option is degrees of offensive and defensive power. For example a magic axe+3 isn´t +3 bonus attack but it exceeds shields and armors with two degrees defensives level. Defensive level can be damage reduction, like -3,-4 or -5, or if defensive is too good, only half or quarter damage.

 

 

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I like the direction of the article but also agree that +3 seems a bit high for defense with bounded accuracy especially with shield/armor combos.

Making the wondrous item concept fit for weapons and armor is 100% what I want.

+1 tops for numbers bonuses with only a few items getting the boost and it will make that bonus special indeed.

Edition wars kill players,Dungeons and Dragons needs every player it can get.

I can get behind those calling for max +1 “masterwork” items. Especially for core.


A module, maybe for Eberron, can offer +2 items for the high-level tiers, even +3 items for epic. This module will also offer the mechanics that restrict the use andor benefit of higher bonuses, despite the abundance of them in the setting.
I like the direction of the article but also agree that +3 seems a bit high for defense with bounded accuracy especially with shield/armor combos. Making the wondrous item concept fit for weapons and armor is 100% what I want. +1 tops for numbers bonuses with only a few items getting the boost and it will make that bonus special indeed.



4TH edition already removed the magical + bonus from shields, so they might continue that so AC doesen't rise to much for those in heavy armor and using a shield.
so will it become that on higer level you chose between:

sword of accuracy
+3 to hit + 3 to damage.

Vorpal sword
+5 damage does max damage X 5 on a crit, if this kills the oponent the oponent is decapitated.
I like how 4e limits bonuses to bonus types. 5e can reduce them even further.

Im starting to think advantage/disadvantage should only be used to adjudicate improvisation. Then all other benefits are actual bonuses. It is already confusing what should or shouldnt use the advantage mechanic, and the system mechanics arent even in place yet. So not including improv ad/disad ...


Common bonuses to check, attack, and defense:
ability bonus (Str, Dex, etc.) (max +5).
• skill bonus, proficiency with weapon (+2 or +3), proficiency with armor (limiting the benefit of armor equipment to no more than the acquired proficiency), “technique” bonus (+5 but doesnt stack with any ability bonus).
• equipment bonus, armor bonus, shield bonus, tool bonus (camouflage for stealth, grappling hook for climb) (+2, +3, +5).  
masterwork bonus, same thing as magic enhancement bonus (max +1).

Other bonus types to check, attack, and defense:
situational bonus, cover/concealment bonus (line-of-effect/line-of-sight), power bonus (+2, +3, +5).
insight bonus, racial bonus, class bonus, lore bonus.
rule-zero bonus, whenever DM feels need to override bonus rules.

Untyped bonuses no longer exist. All bonuses belong to a bonus type.

Oppositely these bonus types, are really modifier types that also correspond to penalties.



Am I forgetting any important bonus? Is it useful to further combine and reduce any of the above bonuses?
They need to shoot the +X items in the head because if they exist in the system players will always lust after them because they are mathematically demonstratable as by far the superior item.

It also completely breaks the concept of bounded accuracy.



i'll trade you a +3 weapon for your always on advantage weapon any day...
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The 4E play style is a high action cinematic style of play where characters worry less about being killed in one hit and more about strategy and what their next move is and the one after it. The players talk back and forth about planning a battle and who can do what to influence the outcome. 4E play is filled with cinematic over the top action. An Eladrin teleports out of the grip of the Ogre. The Fighter slams the dragons foot with his hammer causing it to rear up and stagger back in pain. The Cleric creates a holy zone where their allies weapons are guided to their targets and whenever an enemy dies the Clerics allies are healed. 4E is about knowing when to lauch your nova attack, whether its a huge arcane spell that causes enemies to whirl around in a chaotic storm, or if its a trained adrenaline surge that causes you to attack many many times with two weapons on a single target, or a surge of adrenaline that keeps you going though you should already be dead. Its about tactics and the inability to carry around a bag of potions or a few wands and never have to worry about healing. Its about the guy that can barely role play having the same chance to convince the king to aid the group as the guy that takes improv acting classes and regularly stars as an extra on movies.
Stormwind Fallacy
The Stormwind Fallacy, aka the Roleplayer vs Rollplayer Fallacy Just because one optimizes his characters mechanically does not mean that they cannot also roleplay, and vice versa. Corollary: Doing one in a game does not preclude, nor infringe upon, the ability to do the other in the same game. Generalization 1: One is not automatically a worse role player if he optimizes, and vice versa. Generalization 2: A non-optimized character is not automatically role played better than an optimized one, and vice versa. ...[aside]... Proof: These two elements rely on different aspects of a player's game play. Optimization factors in to how well one understands the rules and handles synergies to produce a very effective end result. Role playing deals with how well a player can act in character and behave as if he was someone else. A person can act while understanding the rules, and can build something powerful while still handling an effective character. There is nothing in the game -- mechanical or otherwise -- restricting one if you participate in the other. Claiming that an optimizer cannot role play (or is participating in a play style that isn't supportive of role playing) because he is an optimizer, or vice versa, is committing the Stormwind Fallacy.
The spells we should getLook here to Check out my adventures and ideas. I've started a blog, about video games, table top role playing games, programming, and many other things its called Kel and Lok Games. My 4E Fantasy Grounds game is currently full.
Oh for crying out loud.  A +3 bonus to hit in a bounded-accuracy system is silly.  If the thing you're hitting, doesn't vary, adding that much to hit is going to wildly skew the expected accuracy, and play havoc with the game - and if tyhe distribution of such things is as haphazard as it seems, raise major balance issues intra-party.

If the system has bounded accuracy, DON'T MAKE ITEMS WITH BONUSES TO ACCURACY.  It is not worth putting them in 'because +x items are D&D' when +x items will break the damn system.

It's like they don't understand their own system.  More to the point, it's like there is no system, they're just throwing... stuff... at the walls and seeing what sticks.  Which, to be honest, does seem to be the design philosophy, such as it is.

Arg.

E: worth noting that the concept of items that do cool stuff is a fine one (the sunder rock mace, or the gorgon armour) and having them get better at higher levels is also fine (frost weapon, say, has 'does cold damage' then 'does cold damage +1d6 extra' then 'does cold damage +1d6 extra + freezes a bloodied enemy solid 1/day' say.  Even making +x items do their enhancement bonus to damage would be reasonably OK, damage is expected to scale.

But adding scaling accuracy items to a system without scaling defences is STUPID.
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.
Please, do not use *money* to fail to balance the math of gaming mechanics.

Only *mechanics* can balance mechanics.



The money is a flavor decision about the adventure setting. A post-apocalyptic survival setting will have little or no money. Oppositely, a setting where the heroes are aristocrats in a utopian city of magic, will have endless money, one way or another. Allow any setting to be possible without letting “money” screw up game mechanics.



Mike Mearls mentions: “First, we don't assume magic items are part of a character's abilities. The math behind the system assumes that you receive only the specific abilities and bonuses granted by your character class and race. At this stage, we do assume that characters upgrade from one type of mundane armor to the next.”



So far so good. I like the idea of advanced mundane armor.



However ...
 
Mike: “For instance, a fighter might *afford* chainmail at 1st level. Later on, that fighter can *afford* banded armor, and then plate. Other than armor, the game lacks any other equipment that we expect you to *purchase* as a strict upgrade.”

“... But we'll rely on feedback to ensure that any sort of expected upgrade isn't irritating.”
 


So here is my feedback. Please dont use money to break the gaming math.

Money creates vicious circles (money makes me more powerful, therefore I use my powers to get more money). Using money to destroy balance of leveling mechanics, invites distortive gamey behaviors that can ruin the game.



At this point, its probably best to assume all “core” armors are equally viable with advantages and disadvantages for each fighting-style. Alternative substandard armors are just that, substandard.

Masterwork armors are defacto the same thing as magic armors, and have the same rarity that magic items do, because the advanced technological techniques of masterworks are just as precious as arcane secrets.

Actually, all “vanilla bonuses” to attacks andor defenses should, by definition be mundane masterworks. Then only the interesting “mysterious” effects of magic items are, by definition, magic.



[Edit]

Below, it seems best to coordinate bonuses with tiers.

+1 is a masterwork that is appropriate for local heroes (levels 0 to 9).
+2 is a masterwork that is appropriate for international heroes (levels 10 to 19).
+3 is an artifact that is epic and appropriate for multiversal heroes (levels 20 and up).


The point here is, these bonuses require mechanical limitations to benefit from them, not monetary limitations.
 
A hero below level 10 simply cannot benefit more than +1, even if the masterwork item itself is +3.
A hero below level 20 simply cannot benefit more than +2.
And so on.

The narrative rationale is: So what if the item is better?

I can have a crappy poolstick to play pool, or the finest olympic poolstick. I am simply not practiced enough in the game to actually benefit from the subtle benefits that the olympic poolstick offers. The poolstick would have to be ridiculous for me to notice an impairment of my game. Note, my pool game is decent, just not amazing.

Similarly, the best tennis racket in the world wont actually make me a better tennis player. Nor expensive sneakers make me play basketball better.

On the other hand, there are other sports where I would benefit from superior equipment.  



So, a level-4 hero with a +2 sword, still only applies +1 to attack rolls. For unique game-changing artifacts, the DM might choose to override this limitation to apply the full +2 of the sword. But generally, it is *mechanics* that balance mechanics.



They could easily balance this out by starting the fighter, cleric, and paladin with a proficiency in chainmail and scale mail armor. Then later granting better armor proficiency as they level up.

Really the way to use chain mail is 100% different than using a breastplate. I personally think you should have to pick and choose which armors you are proficient with, not this "light", "medium", or "heavy" crap...
"Unite the [fan] base? Hardly. As of right now, I doubt their ability to unite a slightly unruly teabag with a cup of water."--anjelika
1-4E play style
The 4E play style is a high action cinematic style of play where characters worry less about being killed in one hit and more about strategy and what their next move is and the one after it. The players talk back and forth about planning a battle and who can do what to influence the outcome. 4E play is filled with cinematic over the top action. An Eladrin teleports out of the grip of the Ogre. The Fighter slams the dragons foot with his hammer causing it to rear up and stagger back in pain. The Cleric creates a holy zone where their allies weapons are guided to their targets and whenever an enemy dies the Clerics allies are healed. 4E is about knowing when to lauch your nova attack, whether its a huge arcane spell that causes enemies to whirl around in a chaotic storm, or if its a trained adrenaline surge that causes you to attack many many times with two weapons on a single target, or a surge of adrenaline that keeps you going though you should already be dead. Its about tactics and the inability to carry around a bag of potions or a few wands and never have to worry about healing. Its about the guy that can barely role play having the same chance to convince the king to aid the group as the guy that takes improv acting classes and regularly stars as an extra on movies.
Stormwind Fallacy
The Stormwind Fallacy, aka the Roleplayer vs Rollplayer Fallacy Just because one optimizes his characters mechanically does not mean that they cannot also roleplay, and vice versa. Corollary: Doing one in a game does not preclude, nor infringe upon, the ability to do the other in the same game. Generalization 1: One is not automatically a worse role player if he optimizes, and vice versa. Generalization 2: A non-optimized character is not automatically role played better than an optimized one, and vice versa. ...[aside]... Proof: These two elements rely on different aspects of a player's game play. Optimization factors in to how well one understands the rules and handles synergies to produce a very effective end result. Role playing deals with how well a player can act in character and behave as if he was someone else. A person can act while understanding the rules, and can build something powerful while still handling an effective character. There is nothing in the game -- mechanical or otherwise -- restricting one if you participate in the other. Claiming that an optimizer cannot role play (or is participating in a play style that isn't supportive of role playing) because he is an optimizer, or vice versa, is committing the Stormwind Fallacy.
The spells we should getLook here to Check out my adventures and ideas. I've started a blog, about video games, table top role playing games, programming, and many other things its called Kel and Lok Games. My 4E Fantasy Grounds game is currently full.
I personally think you should have to pick and choose which armors you are proficient with, not this "light", "medium", or "heavy" crap...

This "'light', 'medium', or 'heavy' crap" provides for a simple feat-chain for classes that don't get "all" at birth.  Replacing them with specific armor proficiencies just means the real armor proficiency options are "the best one for level one" and "the best one, period, when I can afford it" with all the others being largely redundant.

Oh for crying out loud.  A +3 bonus to hit in a bounded-accuracy system is silly.  If the thing you're hitting, doesn't vary, adding that much to hit is going to wildly skew the expected accuracy, and play havoc with the game - and if tyhe distribution of such things is as haphazard as it seems, raise major balance issues intra-party.

If the system has bounded accuracy, DON'T MAKE ITEMS WITH BONUSES TO ACCURACY.  It is not worth putting them in 'because +x items are D&D' when +x items will break the damn system.

It's like they don't understand their own system.  More to the point, it's like there is no system, they're just throwing... stuff... at the walls and seeing what sticks.  Which, to be honest, does seem to be the design philosophy, such as it is.

Arg.

E: worth noting that the concept of items that do cool stuff is a fine one (the sunder rock mace, or the gorgon armour) and having them get better at higher levels is also fine (frost weapon, say, has 'does cold damage' then 'does cold damage +1d6 extra' then 'does cold damage +1d6 extra + freezes a bloodied enemy solid 1/day' say.  Even making +x items do their enhancement bonus to damage would be reasonably OK, damage is expected to scale.

But adding scaling accuracy items to a system without scaling defences is STUPID.



A fix would be to only apply the bonus to damage instead of the attack roll...
"Unite the [fan] base? Hardly. As of right now, I doubt their ability to unite a slightly unruly teabag with a cup of water."--anjelika
1-4E play style
The 4E play style is a high action cinematic style of play where characters worry less about being killed in one hit and more about strategy and what their next move is and the one after it. The players talk back and forth about planning a battle and who can do what to influence the outcome. 4E play is filled with cinematic over the top action. An Eladrin teleports out of the grip of the Ogre. The Fighter slams the dragons foot with his hammer causing it to rear up and stagger back in pain. The Cleric creates a holy zone where their allies weapons are guided to their targets and whenever an enemy dies the Clerics allies are healed. 4E is about knowing when to lauch your nova attack, whether its a huge arcane spell that causes enemies to whirl around in a chaotic storm, or if its a trained adrenaline surge that causes you to attack many many times with two weapons on a single target, or a surge of adrenaline that keeps you going though you should already be dead. Its about tactics and the inability to carry around a bag of potions or a few wands and never have to worry about healing. Its about the guy that can barely role play having the same chance to convince the king to aid the group as the guy that takes improv acting classes and regularly stars as an extra on movies.
Stormwind Fallacy
The Stormwind Fallacy, aka the Roleplayer vs Rollplayer Fallacy Just because one optimizes his characters mechanically does not mean that they cannot also roleplay, and vice versa. Corollary: Doing one in a game does not preclude, nor infringe upon, the ability to do the other in the same game. Generalization 1: One is not automatically a worse role player if he optimizes, and vice versa. Generalization 2: A non-optimized character is not automatically role played better than an optimized one, and vice versa. ...[aside]... Proof: These two elements rely on different aspects of a player's game play. Optimization factors in to how well one understands the rules and handles synergies to produce a very effective end result. Role playing deals with how well a player can act in character and behave as if he was someone else. A person can act while understanding the rules, and can build something powerful while still handling an effective character. There is nothing in the game -- mechanical or otherwise -- restricting one if you participate in the other. Claiming that an optimizer cannot role play (or is participating in a play style that isn't supportive of role playing) because he is an optimizer, or vice versa, is committing the Stormwind Fallacy.
The spells we should getLook here to Check out my adventures and ideas. I've started a blog, about video games, table top role playing games, programming, and many other things its called Kel and Lok Games. My 4E Fantasy Grounds game is currently full.
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