## Magic Items expected

So, I have discovered something interesting. The game designers have repeatedly said that this game does not assume any magic items in its math. To be honest, I have just been taking them at their word. In the games I have played online, magic items seemed a little more common than I expected. But, I just figured that was an artifact of what the DMs I was playing with were giving out. When I played on my own time, magic items were quite rare. But, that is because that is how I hand them out. Then a discussion got started about how rare magic items are in the RAW if you use the randomized distribution rules. I ended up doing a bunch of math. These are my findings (assuming I have not made any mistakes in my sleep deprived and slightly feverish state):

ASSUMING THAT EVERY ENCOUNTER IS AN AVERAGE ENCOUNTER, AND EVERY LEVEL YOU EXPERIENCE 12 SUCH ENCOUNTERS (and with the small liberty of assuming that the odd break in growth pattern between the 91-96% range and the 97-99% range of the average encounter random magic item table is an editing typo that should be reversed):

(Note: all numbers are rounded off.)

The chance that a group will find at least 1 rare item by level 20: 99%
The chance that a group will find at least 2 rare items in one single encounter by level 20: 62%
The chance that a group will find 1 rare item during two different encounters by level 20: 73%
The chance that a group will find at least 2 rare items by level 20: 89%
The chance that a group will find 2 rare items in one single encounter, twice, by level 20: 14%
The chance that a group will find 4 rare items during four different encounters by level 20: 15%
The chance that a group will find 2 rare items in one single encounter and 1 rare item during two different encounters by level 20: 45%
The chance that a group will find at least 4 rare items by level 20: 59%

So, you are likely to find 3-4 rare items by the time you are level 20.

The chance that a group will find at least 1 very rare item by level 20: 81%
The chance that a group will find at least 2 very rare items by level 20: 33%

So, you are likely to find 1-2 very rare items (that is exactly what I guesstimated).

Again, the chance that a group will find 1 legendary item by level 20: 51%.

So, you are likely to find 0-1 legendary items by the time you are level 20 (which is what I already calculated up above).

In total, over the course of a campaign from level 1-20, the game assumes that you will find 3-4 (most likely 3) rare items, 1-2 (most likely 1) very rare items, and 0-1 (more likely 1, but not very likely) legendary items with any realistic probability of success. That is a total of 7 magic items, maximum, of any real potency that the group is likely to find from level 1-20. Statistically speaking, the sort of magic armor you can expect to get your hands on by level 20 will be worse than the higher end non-magical armor you can buy. So, you cannot expect to have a suit of magical armor endgame. If you are lucky, 1 of the 7 potent magical items that the group finds might be a suit of armor that benefits you, but that is purely up to the DM. Likewise, a mage cannot expect to have any magic items that boost its defense, as even bracers of defense are rare (and the group is only likely to find a total of 3-4 rare items). Finding something like robes of the magi would make the wizard the luckiest character in the group. So, insofar as PC AC is concerned, the core math does not assume that a PC will have a magic item.

What is interesting, however, is that, statistically speaking, everyone who needs one will have a +1 magic weapon. While the developers have told us that the game does not assume any magic items in its balance, statistically speaking, based on the rules provided, uncommon magic items should be common enough that by level 20 everyone can get their hands on whatever +1 magic item they might need (unless a DM is being very unreasonable).

Chance that the group will find at least 1 uncommon magic item by level 20: virtually 100%
Chance that the group will find at least 2 uncommon magic items in a single encounter by level 20: virtually 100%
Chance that the group will find at least 3 uncommon magic items by level 20: virtually 100%

All right, I am starting to get lazy, so instead of running all the math I will show a summary with a few calculations that indicate that my point is true. Basically, every encounter as of level 3 gives you a 15% of finding 1 uncommon magic item and a 5% of finding 2 uncommon magic items. Seeing as you will experience 216 encounters with those odds, the group will find a very large number of uncommon magic items. I mean, calculating just my chance of finding 10 magic items when I find only 1 item per encounter, I already calculate a 74% of finding 10 magic items. As I will need to factor in all the other patterns by which I can find 10 magic items (such as finding 2 in one encounter an 1 in 9 other encounters, 2 in 2 encounters and 6 in 6 other encounters, and so on and so forth), my chance of actually finding 10 uncommon items is actually much higher! Somewhere between 10 and 20 your chance drops drastically. I would need to run more numbers than I care to to figure out exactly how many items a group will actually find, statistically speaking, but I estimate it at around 13 or 14 or so. When a group is finding that many uncommon magic items, it is reasonable to assume that uncommon items are among those that can be bought and sold. They will still be expensive items, but there will be a market for them. Their price point in the document seems to agree (100-500gp). When a group finds between 13-14 uncommon magic items, and their price point is only between 100-500gp, it seems likely that everyone in the group will be able to end up with at least one uncommon item of their choosing. That is not something that could be said to be true of the other probabilities I calculated above.

Now, in and of itself, I don't see a problem with that. The problem is that all magic items, not just things like daggers, shortswords, hand-axes, and the other lower tier damage die weapons, are uncommon +1 magic items. So, the game actually does assume that everyone who wants one will be able to have at least a +1 magic item.

Something we should consider. If that is an assumption of the game, fine. Personally, I like the "no magic required" assumption. As such, I think I would prefer it if they split magic weapons into two groups. Weapons that deal 1d4-1d6 damage should be uncommon when they are enchanted to +1. Weapons that deal 1d8+ damage should be rare when they are enchanted to +1.

The 5e of D&D: its like a more balanced version of 2e, but with the character customization frills of 3e and 4e. I love it!

Zardnaar
Joined Apr 2001
15949 Posts
I would put this in the meh basket. There is going to be a difference between RAW and the way people actually play. Even RAW you get some magic items but they are not realy required vs the monsters you will just have an edge vs them or be better than those who lack the items.

Fear is the Mind Killer

The_Jester
Joined Oct 2003
6103 Posts
That's all well and good, but it's not worked into the math of the characters.
They're giving out treasure charts but the treasure isn't mandatory. Hopefully there'll be higher and lower magic charts but the game isn't going to require any adjustment or house rules of the DM just assigns set treasure (and no magic).

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Cyber-Dave
Joined Sep 2004
12142 Posts
That's all well and good, but it's not worked into the math of the characters.
They're giving out treasure charts but the treasure isn't mandatory. Hopefully there'll be higher and lower magic charts but the game isn't going to require any adjustment or house rules of the DM just assigns set treasure (and no magic).

Yea, see, that isn't really true. Magic items affect the math of the game. You can't help that. Now, when there is no guarantee that you will be able to find the item you want, that claim works. Sure, having the item will make you better. But, you can't assume that you will have the item, so you can't build a character around the premise of the items possession. The item helps you, if you are lucky enough to own it, but it isn't an integral part of your character's build. When you will be able to pick one item of your choice of that type by the end of the game, however, it sort of becomes mandatory. Choosing not to have it is to choose to be an inferior character. The sort of DPR added with a mere +1 to hit (and damage on a hit) is actually quite significant. It will increase the DPR of various characters by something like 3-4 points (each round, depending on build).

Now, I don't know that this is a problem. Maybe we should assume that martial types will all have a +1 magic item and calculate balance from that assumption. Any character that removes that assumption would also have to do something to nerf casters. So, in Dark Sun, wizards would have to suffer some sort penalty via the preserving defiling rules, for example.

If this is the intended assumption, that is perfectly fine. But, if that is the intended assumption, they need to be clear about that. That means that when calculating the balance between a wizard and a fighter (for example), a fighter must be calculated as if it has a +1 magic weapon (while the wizard will be calculated as if it has no item, as all the items that benefit a wizard are of a higher rarity). If it is not intended to be the assumption, and the game really does assume no magic items (not that it is actually balanced around that assumption right now), then they need to adjust the rarity of magic weapons accordingly.
The_Jester
Joined Oct 2003
6103 Posts
That's all well and good, but it's not worked into the math of the characters.
They're giving out treasure charts but the treasure isn't mandatory. Hopefully there'll be higher and lower magic charts but the game isn't going to require any adjustment or house rules of the DM just assigns set treasure (and no magic).

Yea, see, that isn't really true. Magic items affect the math of the game. You can't help that.

The difference is that the game isn't saying "you're expected to have a +X weapon at level Y" and despite the amount of magic items you aquire you never increase in power or ephiciency.
Magic affect the game but is not assumed.

#### Jester David's How-To Guide to Fantasy Worldbuilding.

Zardnaar
Joined Apr 2001
15949 Posts
I also want to play D&D not D&D:Accounting 101. Its not assumed dave as in you need +XYZ by this level.

Fear is the Mind Killer

Cyber-Dave
Joined Sep 2004
12142 Posts
That's all well and good, but it's not worked into the math of the characters.
They're giving out treasure charts but the treasure isn't mandatory. Hopefully there'll be higher and lower magic charts but the game isn't going to require any adjustment or house rules of the DM just assigns set treasure (and no magic).

Yea, see, that isn't really true. Magic items affect the math of the game. You can't help that.

The difference is that the game isn't saying "you're expected to have a +X weapon at level Y" and despite the amount of magic items you aquire you never increase in power or ephiciency.
Magic affect the game but is not assumed.

That can ONLY be true when a character can not plan to possess a particular item. Then, owning that item affects the math of the game, but the item is not assumed by the game's statistical and relational math. When a character can plan to possess a certain item, your claim ceases to be true. As a result of that expectation you must calculate the item's effect into the character's expected performance. Any balance or imbalance created by the effect of that item on the character's performance is expected.

Right now, any balance or imbalance created by a +1 magic item (or other common/uncommon) magic its should be expected, and thus assumed.
FallingIcicle
Joined Jun 2006
2400 Posts
Using the random magic item table is completely optional. It's there as a convenience for DMs that want a quick and easy way to generate random magical loot. If the DM would rather decide what items to give the players and when, he is completely free to do so. Just because they provided some tables for generating random loot doesn't mean that magic items are an assumed part of the math. Your characters don't need magic items to be effective. You don't need +X items by X level just to keep up with the game's math and have respectable attack bonuses, saving throws and AC. The only part of the game's mechanics that makes magic items necessary are monsters that are immune to non-magical weapons. Though, even a +1 weapon is enough to overcome that.
Zardnaar
Joined Apr 2001
15949 Posts
Lol don't worry about it dave its just not a big issue IMHO. You're trying to make a mountain out of a mole hill.

Math can't solve balance because of the playstles. Some low magic worlds will have 0 items, others will have lots, others will be RAW. A +3 weapon makes you 15% better it is not required and yeah you may have a bad day on ocassion without it.

The amount of variables makes the maths pointless.

Fear is the Mind Killer

Cyber-Dave
Joined Sep 2004
12142 Posts
Using the random magic item table is completely optional. It's there as a convenience for DMs that want a quick and easy way to generate random magical loot. If the DM would rather decide what items to give the players and when, he is completely free to do so. Just because they provided some tables for generating random loot doesn't mean that magic items are an assumed part of the math. Your characters don't need magic items to be effective. You don't need +X items by X level just to keep up with the game's math and have respectable attack bonuses, saving throws and AC. The only part of the game's mechanics that makes magic items necessary are monsters that are immune to non-magical weapons. Though, even a +1 weapon is enough to overcome that.

Using the table is optional. But, the table still represents a basic statistical expectation. A DM is of course free to step away from that expectation, but they do so at their own risk. The table sets the standard.

And, again, when a type of magical item appears with such statistical frequency that a player can expect to own it, the rhetoric of the developers aside, it becomes an assumed part of the game's math.

I don't know that it is a bad thing either way. Either way, magic items are far less important than they used to be (at least in 3e and 4e). But, the game is not totally balanced (or imbalanced) around their absence. At the moment it is balanced (or imbalanced) around the presence of +1 magic items. If the devs don't want the games math to assume ownership of magic items, they need to increase the rarity of magic items. If they do want to assume that PCs will own +1 magic items, that is fine too. But, they should be aware that the actual math of their game does currently assume +1 magic items, whether they want it to or not...
Shasarak
Joined Sep 2007
8816 Posts
I also want to play D&D not D&D:Accounting 101.

Unless it is Creative Enron Accounting!

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Gatt
Joined Nov 2004
1917 Posts
This post had the inadvertent effect of reminding me why I hate DDN's magic item system.  It reads like a description of Diablo 3's loot system.  Kill X Elites and find 1 Legendary.
Cyber-Dave
Joined Sep 2004
12142 Posts
This post had the inadvertent effect of reminding me why I hate DDN's magic item system.  It reads like a description of Diablo 3's loot system.  Kill X Elites and find 1 Legendary.

Meh. I prefer a rarity system with (for the most part) unassumed magic items in the math to anything offered by D&D to date. I mean, this is pretty close to the spirit of 2e (which I like), but better thought out (for the most part). What 3e and 4e did with item expectations was just... *gag*
FallingIcicle
Joined Jun 2006
2400 Posts
Using the random magic item table is completely optional. It's there as a convenience for DMs that want a quick and easy way to generate random magical loot. If the DM would rather decide what items to give the players and when, he is completely free to do so. Just because they provided some tables for generating random loot doesn't mean that magic items are an assumed part of the math. Your characters don't need magic items to be effective. You don't need +X items by X level just to keep up with the game's math and have respectable attack bonuses, saving throws and AC. The only part of the game's mechanics that makes magic items necessary are monsters that are immune to non-magical weapons. Though, even a +1 weapon is enough to overcome that.

Using the table is optional. But, the table still represents a basic statistical expectation. A DM is of course free to step away from that expectation, but they do so at their own risk. The table sets the standard.

And, again, when a type of magical item appears with such statistical frequency that a player can expect to own it, the rhetoric of the developers aside, it becomes an assumed part of the game's math.

I think you might be misunderstanding what they meant when they said magic items won't be an "assumed part of the game's math." The assumption isn't that players won't ever get magic items, or that when they do it won't affect the math of the game, it's that they don't need them. As it says in the playtest packet, "Such wonders are desirable, but characters do not need magic items to be effective, nor are they entitled to them."

In 4e, for example, if you didn't get a +X weapon, armor, and cloak/amulet by a certain level, your attack bonuses and defenses would fall below what the monsters at that level were designed for. Thus, the assumption that characters would have magic items was built into the game's math, and not giving the players items at the expected rate would cause problems. In Next, characters and monsters are designed with the assumption that they won't have any magic items. Magic items are thus a BONUS, rather than a REQUIREMENT. Yes, they make you better. Yes, they "affect the game's math." But you don't need to have them just to have a competent character. Instead of having an inferior character if you don't have enough magic items, Next has taken the opposite approach: you have a superior character if you have been fortunate enough to find magic items.

I don't know that it is a bad thing. But, if the devs don't want the games math to assume ownership of magic items, they need to increase the rarity of magic items. If they do want to assume that PCs will own +1 magic items, that is fine too. But, they should be aware that the actual math of their game does currently assume +1 magic items, whether they want it to or not...

Yes, in normal games of D&D, people will find magic items. I suspect that only a very tiny minority of groups would have no magic items at all, or have a 20th level character gasping at awe at a +1 sword. The benefit of Next's approach is that now giving out few or no magic items is actually going to be a viable option, and doesn't require a bunch of house rules to compensate. They never said that they don't assume most people will have +1 magic items, but rather that they're designing the game so that it isn't mandatory to have them.

There's also differences in the items themselves. The number bonuses granted by items are lower than in past editions. There are no more +5 (or higher) weapons/armor. Even +3 is very hard to come by. There are of course a few broken items right now (like the Str boosting items), but the overall direction they're taking with magic item bonuses is that "less is more." I like that.
FallingIcicle
Joined Jun 2006
2400 Posts
This post had the inadvertent effect of reminding me why I hate DDN's magic item system.  It reads like a description of Diablo 3's loot system.  Kill X Elites and find 1 Legendary.

Then don't use the random item table. It's an optional thing that's given for convenience. Getting upset about something that's completely optional seems silly to me.
Gnarl
Joined Dec 2002
2740 Posts
Magic items not assumed just means that they're not taking them into account in the math of the game.

You have the exact same problems in any of the editions of D&D with weath per level. CR don't mean anything if you give too much or too little magic items and 4th edition's "superior encounter building guidelines" are a worthless piece of crap if you give more or less than the expected wealth per level.

There's nothing wrong here. If your PCs have magic items that makes them as powerful as PCs of 1 or 2 levels higher, by that time, any DM will figure it out and adjust the encounters accordingly.
Lesp
Joined May 2009
2469 Posts
I do feel like it's kind of weird to say "This game element that's been a part of the overwhelming majority of D&D games played in the history of ever is not assumed. If you're using it and it makes things too easy, you can adjust stuff upwards", rather than "we're assuming moderate use of this game element, because it's been a part of the overwhelming majority of D&D games played in the history of ever, across every single edition, and is the result you get if you use our default treasure tables or any adventure published by any publisher since the dawn of TTRPG time. If you're not using it, you can adjust stuff downwards.*" Unless magic items don't make things any easier or any harder, you're going to be adjusting upwards or downwards if you're using more or fewer of them than the basepoint. Waving your hands in the air and saying that nothing is assumed doesn't make that somehow less true. It's not completely indefensible to choose one extreme end of the scale as the basepoint, but I feel like it's odder than picking a more common level as the basepoint.

*Or actually live with the game being kind of difficult compared to normal. Isn't that what you signed onto the gritty low-magic game for in the first place?
Dwarves invented beer so they could toast to their axes. Dwarves invented axes to kill people and take their beer. Swanmay Syndrome: Despite the percentages given in the Monster Manual, in reality 100% of groups of swans contain a Swanmay, because otherwise the DM would not have put any swans in the game.
lokiare
Joined Nov 2008
16301 Posts
What most people don't understand is that a +3 weapon can totally unbalance the game because the game is designed around bounded accuracy where a level 10 Fighter gets a maximum of +10 to attack (including +5 weapon bonus and +5 from Strength bonus) throw a +3 on top of that and you are looking at a 33% increase in accuracy and an exponential increase in damage because of it.

I mean a Fighter with plate mail +3 and a shield +3 is untouchable by just about anything in the bestiary (AC 26) if they ever get in trouble they can go on the defensive or even use expertise dice to raise their AC even more.

No where in the play test material does it warn against giving magic items out or explain how badly they can mangle the game math. I mean when in the final fight between the Fighter and Asmodeus, the DM is going to be pretty angry when the Fighter takes him down in 3-4 rounds without getting hit once...
"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
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.
FFSAA
Joined Dec 2007
3576 Posts
ASSUMING THAT EVERY ENCOUNTER IS AN AVERAGE ENCOUNTER

By your assumption, artifacts don't exist.  Think you got a bad assumption yet?

Tough encounters are where the rarer loot is.  You are 4x more likely to get a legendary out of tough fights than average fights.  Assuming only average fights is intentionally and artificially lowering the quantity and quality of magic items.

As well most if not all modules have traditionally had one or more top tier items in them in the climatic encounters.  Nothing we've seen from sample adventures has contradicted this.  Getting 15 legendary/artifact across 8 modules would not be at all surprising.

@mikemearls don't quite understand the difference

I don't make the rules, I just think them up and write them down. - Eric Cartman

Enough chitchat!  Time is candy! - Pinky Pie

FFSAA
Joined Dec 2007
3576 Posts
What most people don't understand is that a +3 weapon can totally unbalance the game because the game is designed around bounded accuracy where a level 10 Fighter gets a maximum of +10 to attack (including +5 weapon bonus and +5 from Strength bonus) throw a +3 on top of that and you are looking at a 33% increase in accuracy and an exponential increase in damage because of it.

The +10 is higher with prayer and other bonuses too.  Staff of Striking is only rare and is +3.  Non-sustainable bonuses like potions of heroism give further +2.  Getting well above +10 isn't all that hard and can be pushed further with things like the legendary ioun stone, belt of giant strength, divine power (abuseable +4!).  Calling it bounded is... questionable.

I mean a Fighter with plate mail +3 and a shield +3 is untouchable by just about anything in the bestiary (AC 26) if they ever get in trouble they can go on the defensive or even use expertise dice to raise their AC even more.

Well plate +3 isn't in the magic item list right now.  Pulling stuff from adventures will certainly get done in play groups, but many DMs will restrict things to the +1 in the book.

However.

Monk with bracers, ioun stone, defender, barkskin and shield of faith = sustained 30 AC.
Monk with bracers, stone or ring, +1 ac feat, barkskin and shield of faith = 28 AC.
Dwarf Fighter with +1 plate, defender, ioun stone, barksin, shield of faith = 27 AC.
Dwarf Fighter with +1 plate, shield... = 26 AC.
As bestiary monstes go up to +8 to hit...  Pretty easy to see the math is borked.  Even if you start adding NPC cleric acolytes to all your encounters to cast prayer your monsters are still going to have a heck of a time being any threat to a party.

@mikemearls don't quite understand the difference

I don't make the rules, I just think them up and write them down. - Eric Cartman

Enough chitchat!  Time is candy! - Pinky Pie

Joined May 2012
2274 Posts
Magical item strength and frequency has never been a statistically quantifiable issue in any edition of D&D.
Cyber-Dave
Joined Sep 2004
12142 Posts

I think you might be misunderstanding what they meant when they said magic items won't be an "assumed part of the game's math." The assumption isn't that players won't ever get magic items, or that when they do it won't affect the math of the game, it's that they don't need them. As it says in the playtest packet, "Such wonders are desirable, but characters do not need magic items to be effective, nor are they entitled to them."

But, the game's math does statistically entitle you to +1 magic items. As a result, you do need them. To not have one would be to underpower your character build in terms of its relationally expected capability. What we percieve as being needed or not needed is a direct result of comparisons and expectations, nothing more.

In 4e, for example, if you didn't get a +X weapon, armor, and cloak/amulet by a certain level, your attack bonuses and defenses would fall below what the monsters at that level were designed for.

They "fell below" what was "needed" because characters stopped performing within expected parameters. What creates an expected parameter is a combination prior assumptions and statistical math that fosters those assumptions. Right now, every character can assume that they will have a +1 magical weapon based on the statistical math of the game. That will create an assumption in the player base over time. Right now, people have bought the devs stated design goal and are parroting it without thinking about what the math of the game is actually doing. I was doing that too. And, to the developers credit, for the most part magic item math IS doing what they claimed it would. It is not, however, doing what they claimed it would insofar as +1 magic weapons are concerned.

The expectation that the math of the game creates is that some time between level 3-11 you will find a +1 magical item of the sort you desire. Characters who don't have such an item will in fact be falling below expected design parameters. Given that fact the designers have only two choices: to factor that into the math, in which case characters will suffer an "underbalance" when they do not have such items, or to ignore that fact with their math, in which case characters will reliably benefit from an "overbalance" when they have such items. Right now, as martial characters are so far behind spellcasters, the game is closer to the former case. The truth is, if +1 magical items stay as uncommon magic items, that is probably for the best. But, I would rather the game was actually balanced around the assumption that the players have no combat oriented magic items. In truth, I am ok with either possibility, so long as the end result is not character that are "overbalanced" (read: overpowered) when they use an item that they can reliably attain.

Thus, the assumption that characters would have magic items was built into the game's math, and not giving the players items at the expected rate would cause problems. In Next, characters and monsters are designed with the assumption that they won't have any magic items. Magic items are thus a BONUS, rather than a REQUIREMENT. Yes, they make you better. Yes, they "affect the game's math." But you don't need to have them just to have a competent character. Instead of having an inferior character if you don't have enough magic items, Next has taken the opposite approach: you have a superior character if you have been fortunate enough to find magic items.

The notion that something is a bonus rather than a requirement only exists when one does not expect to have said "bonus." As uncommon magic items will actually be quite common by the end of the game, by 11th level, a character who uses a weapon and does not have a +1 magic item will in fact be an inferior character compared to the game's statistical norm.

Yes, in normal games of D&D, people will find magic items. I suspect that only a very tiny minority of groups would have no magic items at all, or have a 20th level character gasping at awe at a +1 sword. The benefit of Next's approach is that now giving out few or no magic items is actually going to be a viable option, and doesn't require a bunch of house rules to compensate. They never said that they don't assume most people will have +1 magic items, but rather that they're designing the game so that it isn't mandatory to have them.

That is fine. But, if everyone has a +1 magic weapon by level 11, then that needs to be accounted for with the game's math. I just want people to be aware that everyone who wants a +1 magic weapon will have by about level 11. So, for example, when I run numbers on the balance of a wizard vs. a fighter endgame, from now on I will have to give a fighter a +1 magic weapon (and the wizard no magic items) to accurately gauge the balance between the two.

There's also differences in the items themselves. The number bonuses granted by items are lower than in past editions. There are no more +5 (or higher) weapons/armor. Even +3 is very hard to come by. There are of course a few broken items right now (like the Str boosting items), but the overall direction they're taking with magic item bonuses is that "less is more." I like that.

That is true. But, it is also a non-sequitur to what I am talking about. Balance is bound. I have not claimed that this breaks the bounded math. It does not. It just means that the calculation of a martial characters expected bonus to hit and average damage should be increased by +1 above what popular opinion has been claiming as of about level 11. So, endgame (for example), fighter's actually have an expected +11 to hit, not a +10 to hit.

That is all I am saying.
lokiare
Joined Nov 2008
16301 Posts
What most people don't understand is that a +3 weapon can totally unbalance the game because the game is designed around bounded accuracy where a level 10 Fighter gets a maximum of +10 to attack (including +5 weapon bonus and +5 from Strength bonus) throw a +3 on top of that and you are looking at a 33% increase in accuracy and an exponential increase in damage because of it.

The +10 is higher with prayer and other bonuses too.  Staff of Striking is only rare and is +3.  Non-sustainable bonuses like potions of heroism give further +2.  Getting well above +10 isn't all that hard and can be pushed further with things like the legendary ioun stone, belt of giant strength, divine power (abuseable +4!).  Calling it bounded is... questionable.

All those items except for the temporary once a day spells are all not assumed in the game. It is bounded because you can only get a very specific range of bonuses and getting a permanent +3 on top of whatever other bonuses you can get is game breaking. If they get those items though it is broken.

I mean a Fighter with plate mail +3 and a shield +3 is untouchable by just about anything in the bestiary (AC 26) if they ever get in trouble they can go on the defensive or even use expertise dice to raise their AC even more.

Well plate +3 isn't in the magic item list right now.  Pulling stuff from adventures will certainly get done in play groups, but many DMs will restrict things to the +1 in the book.

However.

Monk with bracers, ioun stone, defender, barkskin and shield of faith = sustained 30 AC.
Monk with bracers, stone or ring, +1 ac feat, barkskin and shield of faith = 28 AC.
Dwarf Fighter with +1 plate, defender, ioun stone, barksin, shield of faith = 27 AC.
Dwarf Fighter with +1 plate, shield... = 26 AC.
As bestiary monstes go up to +8 to hit...  Pretty easy to see the math is borked.  Even if you start adding NPC cleric acolytes to all your encounters to cast prayer your monsters are still going to have a heck of a time being any threat to a party.

Yeah, most of those things require magic items which aren't assumed either. However if thrown in you are correct. They can break the game math in half.

Of course the way to fix this is simple. Nothing stacks except for ability bonuses and the highest other bonus. If you have a +3 from a magic sword, you don't get anything from bless or heroism or whatever...
"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
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.
Cyber-Dave
Joined Sep 2004
12142 Posts
ASSUMING THAT EVERY ENCOUNTER IS AN AVERAGE ENCOUNTER

By your assumption, artifacts don't exist.  Think you got a bad assumption yet?

Tough encounters are where the rarer loot is.  You are 4x more likely to get a legendary out of tough fights than average fights.  Assuming only average fights is intentionally and artificially lowering the quantity and quality of magic items.

As well most if not all modules have traditionally had one or more top tier items in them in the climatic encounters.  Nothing we've seen from sample adventures has contradicted this.  Getting 15 legendary/artifact across 8 modules would not be at all surprising.

Tough encounters offer a higher probability of finding an item during that encounter. Easy encounters offer a lower probability of finding an item during that encounter. The end result is a wash. That is why we use average values. Yes, it is safe to assume that the average game will not have any artifacts in it. Every so often you will play a campaign where one does appear, but it will not be common. And, your claim about getting 15 legendary/artifact based items is ludicrous given the actual context of the game's rules as they currently stand. Any campaign that gives away those sorts of items will be stepping very far outside the expected norm of an average game.
Shiroiken
Joined Mar 2008
1565 Posts
Using the random magic item table is completely optional. It's there as a convenience for DMs that want a quick and easy way to generate random magical loot.

Using the table is optional. But, the table still represents a basic statistical expectation. A DM is of course free to step away from that expectation, but they do so at their own risk. The table sets the standard.

It is my understanding that Magic Items are optional to begin with. Since it's an option, then your expectation should be 0 Magic Items by Level 20; everything else is just bonus. If the DM wants Magic Items to be rare, then they are. If the DM wants to be Monty Haul and give away tons of Magic Items, then he does. The listings are not assumptions, but guidelines for new DMs and DMs who like a bit of randomness.

I will agree that I would like the tables tweaked a bit (or even better, tweakable by the DM), but that is a matter of taste.
Uchawi
Joined Jun 2010
4073 Posts
The other problem is you need to add magic items to make any distinction on mundane items like armor or weapons, because the bounds of accuracy are too restrictive to allow for a broader range of bonuses.
Monsieur_Moustache
Joined Aug 2004
1968 Posts
What is sad is the inability to separate +X bonuses as their own magic effects.
Why should all magic weapon or armors have +attack/defense in top of having nice true magical effects ?

The choice should be between having a boring +X enchantment or having more exotic effets.

If you think my english is bad, just wait until you see my spanish and my italian. Defiling languages is an art.

justmike1976
Joined Jun 2012
2037 Posts
no offense to anyone but all this math has got to go, like i said before there are way too many mechanics tinkering with theories and stuff. what happened to enjoying the game? at the end of the day no matter what math you come up with, the dm is in control of what gets put into the game. so your math is false as it cannot apply to every situation. so at best its a situational theory.
GMforPowergamers
Joined Apr 2006
3300 Posts
no offense to anyone but all this math has got to go, like i said before there are way too many mechanics tinkering with theories and stuff. what happened to enjoying the game? at the end of the day no matter what math you come up with, the dm is in control of what gets put into the game. so your math is false as it cannot apply to every situation. so at best its a situational theory.

You are both right and wrong. The math can not ever be the end of it, there is just too much variables. How ever it can be a place to start.

Before posting, ask yourself WWWS: What Would Wrecan Say?

Joined May 2012
2274 Posts
You are both right and wrong. The math can not ever be the end of it, there is just too much variables. How ever it can be a place to start.

That seems to me like saying that math is a good place to start the interpretation of Shakespeare's plays.  D&D is not, andnever has been, a game determined by math.  The math is the *least* important element of the game.  Why would one 'start' analysis of it there?
dave2008
Joined Jan 2009
1479 Posts

If this is the intended assumption, that is perfectly fine. But, if that is the intended assumption, they need to be clear about that. That means that when calculating the balance between a wizard and a fighter (for example), a fighter must be calculated as if it has a +1 magic weapon (while the wizard will be calculated as if it has no item, as all the items that benefit a wizard are of a higher rarity). If it is not intended to be the assumption, and the game really does assume no magic items (not that it is actually balanced around that assumption right now), then they need to adjust the rarity of magic weapons accordingly.

CD, I see your point and I generally agree (and thank you for the hard work), but does the +1 really matter that much?  When can the fighter expect to get that +1?  It has a bigger punch at lvl 5 versus lvl 15.

I just don't think the developers really think there is much of a difference to a fighter with a +1 weapon and one without.  I know that is how it "feels" to me as well when we play.  Of course that doesn't mean that it is the truth.  With the flatter math it definitely has more of an impact in Next vs. 3e and 4e.
Emerikol
Joined Apr 2009
11019 Posts
I don't think it ever occurred to me to make magic item distribution entirely random.  I will use the tables on occasion but I doubt I'll run a campaign that way.

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GMforPowergamers
Joined Apr 2006
3300 Posts
You are both right and wrong. The math can not ever be the end of it, there is just too much variables. How ever it can be a place to start.

That seems to me like saying that math is a good place to start the interpretation of Shakespeare's plays.  D&D is not, andnever has been, a game determined by math.  The math is the *least* important element of the game.  Why would one 'start' analysis of it there?

it is more like starting your interpretation of shakespeare with a serese of TVtropes. It can give you insight, but only part of the story.

example: when 3.0 was still pretty new, we started a game at level 1. We rolled dice for stats, and we only had the sword and first book and the basic 3 books from WotC and 1 3rd party book of spells. We had 5 PCs, one (K) played a sorcerer hafling with a 7 con (-2) and as such started play with 2hp. His first level feat was combat casting.  Our local power gamer (P) took 1 look at that and laughed. He told that player something I will never forget. "The only reason to have combat casting is if you are worried you may get hit and lose your spell, but with 2hp it only takes 12 to kill you out right, so if you get hit, looseing your spell is the least of your wories."

example 2 (many years later): We played a 3.5 game with ALOT of WotC and 3rd party books, but the same two players were now playing twins in game. Both showed up to game with idea's and stats but not fully done characters. We knew we were starting 'high level' but not sure how high.  K had said he was going paliden and wanted to be one of the best swordsmen in the world, P was a warlock that played with magic and swordplay but took nothing serius. they both had the same hight, weight, hair, and eye color, and very simialar character looks, but very diffrent attitudes, and the funnies was there stats, same con, and int, and there dex and str were reversed but same numbers, and one K had a slightly better wis, and P had slightyl better cha.
now we started at level 11, so we all worked out our back stories and the two of them were now twins. One a swordsman focusing his life on being the best, the other a spell caster that played with swords.
K was X level paladen and Y level Kensi
P was X level warlock Y level sorcerer 1 level rouge and Z level prestige class to up both caster levels...
P joked he was a 'bomb digity swordsman' witch was all fun and games until we realized when the 2 brothers flanked a target, P with Weapon finees, wraith strike, and eldritch strike could sneak attack with better to hit and better damage then K could smite with.  Bt level 14 K was pissed his swordman had to take a back seat in accuracy and damage to a caster. So the DM tried to be nice, we found a magic legendary sword. +6 holy power (epic handbook) Keen great sword of speed. K got it and at the same time P still has his own sword +1 keen screaming raiper.      the next fight came and P did his normal move, and we had to stop game to figure this out...

both flanked, K was power attacking -2 to hit +4 damage, and smiting. K needed a 7 to hit (12 when not smiting, 10 or 5 without power attack)  P wraith strike eldtrich strike sneak attak needed a 3 to hit. K crits 17+ P crits 15+  K if he hits does 8d6+27 (+17 when not smiting) P if he hits deals 7d6+12 damage.  on paper it looked like K should be doing way more damage, but he  never did. lets look at averages 36.5 from the caster, and 55 (45 when not smiteing) from the swordsman...

both problems MATH. Anyone sitting at eaither game new something was off, but the math showed it quick enough.

Before posting, ask yourself WWWS: What Would Wrecan Say?

Maxperson
Joined Mar 2008
23986 Posts
That's all well and good, but it's not worked into the math of the characters.
They're giving out treasure charts but the treasure isn't mandatory. Hopefully there'll be higher and lower magic charts but the game isn't going to require any adjustment or house rules of the DM just assigns set treasure (and no magic).

Yea, see, that isn't really true. Magic items affect the math of the game.

But that's not the point.  While they affect the math of the game, the game math doesn't assume that you will have one.  That's all that was promised.  They never promised that magic items wouldn't affect game math.

Maxperson
Joined Mar 2008
23986 Posts
What most people don't understand is that a +3 weapon can totally unbalance the game because the game is designed around bounded accuracy where a level 10 Fighter gets a maximum of +10 to attack (including +5 weapon bonus and +5 from Strength bonus) throw a +3 on top of that and you are looking at a 33% increase in accuracy and an exponential increase in damage because of it.

Your claim is outlandish and unfounded.  I rather think that in a bounded system, most people DO understand that a +3 item can unbalance the game.

No where in the play test material does it warn against giving magic items out or explain how badly they can mangle the game math. I mean when in the final fight between the Fighter and Asmodeus, the DM is going to be pretty angry when the Fighter takes him down in 3-4 rounds without getting hit once...

That doesn't mean people are stupid and don't get it.
Maxperson
Joined Mar 2008
23986 Posts

Yeah, most of those things require magic items which aren't assumed either. However if thrown in you are correct. They can break the game math in half.

Of course the way to fix this is simple....

Yep.  Have everyone visit Oz so they can get a brain, because according to you, most people aren't bright enough to understand that in a bounded system, lots of high+ magic items break the game.
GMforPowergamers
Joined Apr 2006
3300 Posts

Yeah, most of those things require magic items which aren't assumed either. However if thrown in you are correct. They can break the game math in half.

Of course the way to fix this is simple....

Yep.  Have everyone visit Oz so they can get a brain, because according to you, most people aren't bright enough to understand that in a bounded system, lots of high+ magic items break the game.

can my group get the directions to OZ please.

we are round robin DMing play tests, and my 3rd level Paliden has +2 full plate and a +1 sheild, and a hombrew sword with no plus but cool powers.  23 AC
a level 18 Balor only has +8 to hit... he needs a 15 to hit me
a level 11 Death knight with the 9 lives stealer needs a 14.
the only level 20 threat I could find is the king of devils, and he needs a 13 to hit me. at level 3...

last playtest we found a displacer beast, and it could not hit me (looking at the stats it need 17+)

Before posting, ask yourself WWWS: What Would Wrecan Say?

Maxperson
Joined Mar 2008
23986 Posts

Yeah, most of those things require magic items which aren't assumed either. However if thrown in you are correct. They can break the game math in half.

Of course the way to fix this is simple....

Yep.  Have everyone visit Oz so they can get a brain, because according to you, most people aren't bright enough to understand that in a bounded system, lots of high+ magic items break the game.

can my group get the directions to OZ please.

we are round robin DMing play tests, and my 3rd level Paliden has +2 full plate and a +1 sheild, and a hombrew sword with no plus but cool powers.  23 AC
a level 18 Balor only has +8 to hit... he needs a 15 to hit me
a level 11 Death knight with the 9 lives stealer needs a 14.
the only level 20 threat I could find is the king of devils, and he needs a 13 to hit me. at level 3...

last playtest we found a displacer beast, and it could not hit me (looking at the stats it need 17+)

The numbers are still off.  The balor still needs a 12 to hit you without those +'s.  Also, to hit is not what makes a creature nasty.  How did your 3rd level paladin handle 6d6 damage a round for being next to the balor?  How did you handle the hordes of demons it called?  Even at a 15 or higher, 3 attacks will tear your 3rd level paladin up.

Also, some DMs just like PCs to be strong.  They don't care about balance.
GMforPowergamers
Joined Apr 2006
3300 Posts

The numbers are still off.  The balor still needs a 12 to hit you without those +'s.  Also, to hit is not what makes a creature nasty.  How did your 3rd level paladin handle 6d6 damage a round for being next to the balor?  How did you handle the hordes of demons it called?  Even at a 15 or higher, 3 attacks will tear your 3rd level paladin up.

Also, some DMs just like PCs to be strong.  They don't care about balance.

well My PC has not faced any of that, last game (the first game with the +1 sheild) I fought Orcs, and the DM didn't understand why I walked through a group of them not careing.

(I didn't see if he moded them but they are listed as +3 and +5 to hit)  At one point I had 6 orcs attacking me (2 with bows and 4 in melee) and the DM was swearing up a storm "why can't I Fing hit your A" what he didn't understand was that by beating the black gaurd the game before (getting the magic armor that before that was +1 chain) and this game finding a magic shield put MY AC WAY higher then it was (jump from 19 to 23)

in the 5 round fight I got hit once (a 19 in melee becuse the archers would have mised with that roll)  and the next round I healed myself and still hit with my sword

tonight before my 4e game starts we are going to discuss my paliden from krypton. It wont be a problem next play test becuse I am running the game (round robin DMing) so my PC will be 'else where'  but the session after that we need and answer for.

so just to recap, the 2 DMs didn't understand that they were messing with the math, they thought they just designed cool encounters and treasure, and both care that they are having problems hitting. See most of us are used to the other extreme.

in 2e a fighter level 10 with a +5 defender long sowrd, +3 armor, +3 sheild  had at best a -10 AC
in 3e you could give 10th level fighters epic items and the casters still had more omph.
in 4e you were constantly upgrading magic items,

Before posting, ask yourself WWWS: What Would Wrecan Say?

Mand12
Joined Jun 2010
17444 Posts
So, the game actually does assume that everyone who wants one will be able to have at least a +1 magic item.

Not necessarily.

Yes, the expected item generation has some value.  That value may be high enough so that it's exceedingly unlikely that using solely random loot that everyone won't have a +1 weapon by some level.

That's not the same thing as saying that "the game actually does assume" magic weapons.  The "game" only does that if the presence of those +1 weapons is baked into the larger system math, which you can only verify by looking at the monster side, not the magic item side.  It doesn't matter if the random loot gives out thirty magic items every level, the "game" might still not assume that.  Things would be beyond utterly broken after a few levels, but the assumption wouldn't be there.

Expectation and assumption are not the same thing.  Unless the expected numbers of magic items influence monster design, we're still operating under BA.
D&D Next = D&D: Quantum Edition
Cyber-Dave
Joined Sep 2004
12142 Posts
Using the random magic item table is completely optional. It's there as a convenience for DMs that want a quick and easy way to generate random magical loot.

Using the table is optional. But, the table still represents a basic statistical expectation. A DM is of course free to step away from that expectation, but they do so at their own risk. The table sets the standard.

It is my understanding that Magic Items are optional to begin with. Since it's an option, then your expectation should be 0 Magic Items by Level 20; everything else is just bonus. If the DM wants Magic Items to be rare, then they are. If the DM wants to be Monty Haul and give away tons of Magic Items, then he does. The listings are not assumptions, but guidelines for new DMs and DMs who like a bit of randomness.

I will agree that I would like the tables tweaked a bit (or even better, tweakable by the DM), but that is a matter of taste.

That isn't really quite true. I mean, yea, magic items are "optional." But, the game still gives you a set of equations which are supposed to provide the statistical norm. Any group has the "option" to step outside of the those norms. A DM, when he does so, needs to be aware of the consequences. But that suggested statistical norm grants every character an uncommon magic item of their choice by about level 10-11ish. Which means, the game expects all players who need one to have a +1 magic item by level 10-11. A DM who chooses otherwise should realize that, and the games math needs to account for that. I just want people to be aware of what the game believes our characters should look like (based on its own math).