Two birds with one stone: Magic Items and Weapon Expertise

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The two birds, in this case, are "making magic items more special" and "that bloody Weapon Expertise feat". My idea is extremely simple, but at the same time devilishly clever, if I may say so myself (I'm pretty arrogant): swap the sources of the bonuses.
 


The "One Stone" System


Feats' bonuses to attack rolls or defenses no longer scale with level.


  • e.g. Iron Will grants a +2 feat bonus to Will.

  • e.g. Light Blade Expertise grants a +1 feat bonus to attack rolls and a scaling bonus to damage rolls.


Each PC gets a cumulative +1 mastery bonus to all attacks, damage, and defenses every five levels or so, to a maximum of +6.  There are two ways to distribute this bonus:

  1. As a reward to a PC who completes a minor quest of great personal significance.  This could be anything from a journey to a monastery to train with a martial arts master to an attempt to reconcile with an estranged daughter.  Anything that shows the PC has something to be fighting for.  This is the recommended method.

  2. As an automatic bonus every fifth level.  I'd suggest 5, 10, 15... , but your mileage may vary.

  3. A compromise: as 1, but your bonus increases automatically at levels 6, 11, 16... if you haven't increased it with a quest in the last five levels.

Magic weapons, implements, ki foci, armour, neck slot items, augmenting whetstones, and all other items that grant a scaling enhancement bonus grant a +1 enhancement bonus every 10 levels instead of every 5.

Masterwork light armour no longer exists. Masterwork heavy armour now follows this table:














































































Armor Name AC Bonus Enhancement Bonus Special
Crysteel+7+2+2 Will
Forgemail+8+2
Pitmail+9+3+2 Will
Spiritmail+10+3
Stormscale+8+2+2 Fortitude
Wyrmscale+9+2
Titanscale+10+3+2 Fortitude
Elderscale+11+3
Specter plate+9+2Resist 2 all
Warplate+10+2
Tarrasque plate+11+3Resist 5 all
Godplate+12+3


All effects that depend on an item's enhancement bonus, including but not limited to item level and price, crit dice, and many properties, instead depend on twice its enhancement bonus.

  • e.g. a +1 Magic weapon is a level 6 item, costs 1800 gp, and deals +2d6 damage on a crit.

  • e.g. a +3 Staff of Time is a legal level 30 item that costs 3,125,000 gp and deals +6d12 damage on a crit.

  • e.g. Acrobat Boots are still a level 2 item costing 520 gp, because they don't grant an enhancement bonus.


 The party receives 1.5 fewer items each level from treasure.

Special Exceptions


Artifact enhancement bonuses are halved and rounded down. Effects that depend on their enhancement bonus instead depend on their original enhancement bonus.  Many artifacts may need to be managed on a case-by-case basis.



  • e.g. a fully assembled Rod of Seven Parts is a +3 rod that deals +7d6 damage on a crit and grants a +7 item bonus to Diplomacy, Intimidate, and Religion checks.

  • e.g. the Axe of the Dwarven Lords is a +2 battleaxe that deals +5d6 damage on a crit.  When it is pleased, it becomes a regular +3 battleaxe; when it is angered it becomes a regular +2 battleaxe.

  • e.g. the Invulnerable Coat of Arnd is +1 chainmail.  When it is unsatisfied or angered, it becomes +0.


 Attack powers that lack the weapon or implement keyword and grant a scaling bonus to attack rolls, such as Dragon Breath and Darkfire, reduce the bonus they grant by a cumulative 2 per tier.

  • e.g. the attack line for the duergar's Infernal Quills power is now simply "Constitution vs. AC".

  • e.g. the attack line for the drow's Darkfire power is now "Intelligence+2, Wisdom+2, or Charisma+2 vs. Reflex".

  • e.g. the attack line for the Minotaur Horned Champion's Driving Gore power is now "Strength+2 vs. AC".


 Certain items, including most alchemical items, use a flat number to determine their attack bonus, rather than depending on the ability of the user.  Mastery bonuses do not apply to this attack.

  • e.g. Mindiron Vambraces' daily power is +11 vs. Will / +21 vs. Will / +31 vs. Will, regardless of who is using it.


 If an item grants an item bonus to damage, halve that bonus.  In other words, an item bonus to damage is equal to the item's (effective) enhancement bonus, instead of twice that value.

  • e.g. a +2 Staff of Ruin is a level 18 item that grants a +2 item bonus to damage and deals +4d10 damage on a crit.

  • e.g. Iron Armbands of Power grant a +1 item bonus at level 6, a +2 item bonus at level 16, and a +3 item bonus at level 26.


Discussion


See, the math of the game assume that you'll get, on average, +1 to attacks and defenses each level.  That's 29 increases between level 1 and level 30.  In the standard system, they're divided as follows:



  • +15 from the usual 1/2 level bonus

  • +4 from ability increases (or masterwork armour, if you wear the heavy stuff)

  • +6 from enhancement bonuses

  • +3 from feats (or masterwork armour)

  • +1 from miscellaneous sources, like item bonuses or paragon path features.


In my system the final sum is the same, but the breakdown looks like:



  • +15 from the usual 1/2 level bonus

  • +4 from ability increases (or masterwork armour, if you wear the heavy stuff)

  • +6 from mastery bonuses

  • +3 from enhancement bonuses

  • +1 from miscellaneous sources, like item bonuses or paragon path features.


This simple change has many interesting consequences.


A long-needed fix


The first of these is that Weapon Expertise and its associated feats are now utterly unnecessary and can be disposed of in the nearest suitable location, such as a volcano or the depths of outer space. 


This also applies to the Paragon and Robust Defenses feats, as well as certain aspects of the masterwork system.  While I will refer mostly to weapons in the following paragraphs, please note that everything I say applies equally to armour, amulets, and other enhancement-granting items.

Update: Since Essentials expertise feats are actually pretty good (albeit overpowered), I've allowed them to return in a more balanced form.  They're still better than most feats, but they're not (quite) mandatory any more.


Magic items are more special


The most important consequence in my opinion (after the removal of Weapon Expertise, anyway), is the reason I originally thought up this rule: to detrivialize magic items. I mean, despite the designers' original assurances that 4e would reduce the "Christmas Tree Effect" and make magic items neat again, things haven't changed much at all.  Indeed, magic items are even more vital, and thus even more pedestrian, than before: without that +6 to attacks at high epic, you might as well be swinging an enormous stuffed kangaroo for all the hitting you won't be doing.


Now, however, you'll only need new gear every ten levels.That +1 sword you found in your first adventure will be sticking around for a good long while. You might even start to feel some attachment to it. And when you get that +2 dancing longsword, well, I bet that'll be even more exciting.


Magic Items are less vital


Interestingly, despite the increased relevance of magic items, it's still possible to go without one for a while and still be effective. After all, it's only a three-point difference at most, and we were all able to survive without that (albeit at reduced capacity) before Weapon Expertise. Now you can actually take away the PCs' items briefly, trusting that they'll still be able to fight their way out of prison with the knife they nicked off of that careless guard. Best of all, you can make Page 42 attacks and not feel like you're shooting yourself in the foot by trying to do something interesting!


Fewer items in treasure parcels


Since there are now fewer items available overall, PCs won't need to replace their items as often: once a tier, rather than twice a tier.  To make up for this, I suggest removing 1.5 item parcels from the treasure the PCs find each level.  That is, remove two items at even levels, one item at odds.  This is a little awkward, and for that I apologize.


On the other hand, now that you have fewer treasure parcels to dole out, you can spend more time hand-placing each one. It won't be "Okay, you killed the remorhaz; you find 750 pp and a level 23 magic item", but rather "Okay, you killed the remorhaz; YOU FIND NOTHING BECAUSE IT'S AN UNINTELLIGENT NOMADIC GIANT CATERPILLAR. Maybe you'll find something next level." (Okay, bad example.)


Small quibbles


There are a few downsides to my idea, mind you, mostly of the 'extra work' variety.  Luckily I've done most of that extra work for you already.


Masterwork light armour provided that +3 bonus normally granted by feats, so it had to go.  Masterwork heavy armour is a stranger beast, though: not only did it grant that +3, it also provided the AC bonus normally granted by a high Dex or Int score.  That's still there, so masterwork heavy armour has been modified appropriately.
Many innate powers that don't use weapons or implements needed changing.  Dragon Breath, for instance, had an attack line of "Con+2/+4/+6 vs. Reflex".  These extra plusses were to make up for the fact that it didn't get that +6 enhancement bonus.  Now, though, everybody gets that +6 bonus for free on every attack; thus, innate attacks should be normalized to a flat "Con vs. Reflex".

Some innate powers, like Darkfire, grant bigger bonuses: Cha+4/+6/+8 in this case.  These should become Cha+2, to reflect how they stay 2 points above the baseline.

Innate powers received at level 20, say from a paragon path, should be counted as belonging to the Epic tier.  After all, you'll be spending 91% of your time with that power (10 out of 11 levels) as an Epic character.

Artifacts are a little weird.  They already come with a built-in scaling mechanism: you find them with a bonus appropriate to your level; you level up and it goes up a plus; then you level up again and it disappears. Unfortunately, this is a little too granular for my system to handle easily, since it doesn't usually differentiate between a high-paragon and a low-paragon item.

The fix I came up with--letting artifacts sit between bonuses--works okay I think, as long as you only apply it to artifacts.  Don't use it on normal items.  It's okay for artifacts to come in a wider range of power levels, because artifacts cost nothing, arrive unbidden, and leave the same way.  Allowing half-bonus regular items means that magic items will need to be replaced every 5 levels (ever half-bonus) rather than every 10 levels, wjich completely invalidates the whole "Magic Items are more special" concept.

The Weapon Focus feats haven't been removed, so a character built under this system will deal 3 more damage with each attack than a standard character.  Item bonuses to damage have been reduced to compensate.  This is a good thing, since Iron Armbands of Power and similar items will no longer be a must-have... or in other words, an item tax.

Campaign tone


I should note that this system isn't appropriate for all campaigns.


If your campaign is a kick-in-the-door dungeon crawl, where the only goals are to fight more monsters and get more stuff, you should probably stick with the original system.  The same holds in any other campaign where your items are a defining part of your character: some kind of fantasy-mecha hybrid, say.


On the other hand, if your campaign is a gritty, low-magic one where colourful tricks are no match for three feet of cold steel, you might prefer a system with no enhancement bonuses at all.  I've seen a few around these boards, and most of them aren't bad.  Some are definitely worth a look.*


However. If your campaign takes place somewhere between those extremes, in the genres known as high and heroic fantasy, my system might be just the thing for you.  Give it a go.


A word of warning


Now, I'm sure there are some of you who are reading this and saying, "Hey, this guy has some pretty good ideas... but I think I could make it better by changing this one thing here."  First of all: No, I'm fairly sure you can't.  Second of all, DON'T CHANGE THE SYSTEM.  The math of the system is very carefully balanced, and if you go mucking around in it without knowing what you're doing you could mess it up colossally. 


Don't put Weapon Expertise back in "because you're nerfed without it."


Don't put the enhancement bonus cap back to +6 "to make weapons more epic." 


Don't cap enhancement bonuses at +1 or +0 "to make the characters stand out more."


Don't change the levels at which you gain your mastery bonuses... actually nah, this one's okay.  You can do this if you like.


Okay, so I'm exaggerating a bit.  But seriously, if you're thinking of changing something, at least read the thread first.  And then tell us about your idea.  If it's bad, we'll try to explain why; if it's really good, it might just get incorporated into the system.


 


So, what do you think? Is it a good house rule? Are there any hidden downsides I may have missed? Is there anything I could have made better? Tell me your thoughts.


 


*If you want a quick fix, here's an idea: use my system, but convert every magic item into a legendary boon (/divine boon/grandmaster training/whatever).  Oh, and have any boons that replace enhancement-granting items take 10 levels to fade, instead of 5.
I like it. Enough that I may make use of it here soon.

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71235715 wrote:
It's so good, it's what should have been done in the first place. Pride should be swallowed and wotc should just admit they fumbled the math.
I see a possible downside: there are no more 'epic' weapons: the difference between a super ultimate epic shiny flaming longsword (a.k.a. +3 flaming with your fix), and your default flaming longsword (a.k.a. +1 flaming longsword) ... is +2 attack and damage.
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It's so good, it's what should have been done in the first place. Pride should be swallowed and wotc should just admit they fumbled the math.

Thanks! I'm not sure if it's "what they should have done it in the first place", though: standard D&D traditionally puts quite a bit of emphasis on magic items. This rule is more of a variant for if you want to try a different play style. Handing out Weapon Expertise for free at level 1 is simpler, and probably better for most games.


I see a possible downside: there are no more 'epic' weapons: the difference between a super ultimate epic shiny flaming longsword (a.k.a. +3 flaming with your fix), and your default flaming longsword (a.k.a. +1 flaming longsword) ... is +2 attack and damage.

Hey, +2 attack and damage is pretty significant: it's the equivalent of three feats. Plus, it's not like most people consider getting a +5 weapon to be terribly exciting right now--it's almost exactly the same as the +4 weapon they just sold. Feels more like part of the levelling-up process, just one more number you crank. Right now, that +1 of difference is just something that's owed to the player, rather than something to make them think "Wow, that's awesome!" In my system, you can never predict perfectly when you'll get that next plus, and each plus has a much greater relative significance than each standard-system plus.

Also, the enhancement bonus isn't the only thing better weapons have going for them. That +3 weapon might be a Holy Avenger. Or Vorpal. Or even just an improved lower-level weapon--+3d6 damage from the Battlecrazed greataxe, anyone?
I like this a lot, it's a really good idea

As for the money sink; I think if you keep the prices of the items as they are (as in; that +3 epic weapon costs the same as a regular +3 epic item) you could just divide the gp gains by 5 and the system would rebalance itself, since each item that is 5 levels higher costs 5 times as much.

That also means that owning something mundane, like a castle, also becomes awesome, because they are actually more expensive then your sword. It's no longer 'I trade this shiny blade for your kingdom', mundane stuff actually has value again.

This should be tried out, worked out, and be presented as the low-magic approach to regular 4e D&D.
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I like it!

I do wonder how you will cover a few circumstances though. First, what if the party has an artificer. How will you handle item creation? Do you lower treasure (gold) given in addition to actual items given? Or do you just eliminate the Enchant Magic Item ritual trees?

Also, one thing not taken into account: Critical Hits. In the 4e system, you ad d6,d8,10s or d12s per +1 of the item each time they critical hit. While critical hits are rare enough that that may not be a big deal, for a class like a dagger master who is supposed to critical hit 15% of the time, that can be a huge deficit for their class. How would you suggest handling that?
I like this a lot, it's a really good idea

As for the money sink; I think if you keep the prices of the items as they are (as in; that +3 epic weapon costs the same as a regular +3 epic item) you could just divide the gp gains by 5 and the system would rebalance itself, since each item that is 5 levels higher costs 5 times as much.

That also means that owning something mundane, like a castle, also becomes awesome, because they are actually more expensive then your sword. It's no longer 'I trade this shiny blade for your kingdom', mundane stuff actually has value again.

This should be tried out, worked out, and be presented as the low-magic approach to regular 4e D&D.

Y'know, that might just work. I do see one small hitch, though: what do we do with items that don't grant enhancement bonuses, like hats and boots?


I like it!

I do wonder how you will cover a few circumstances though. First, what if the party has an artificer. How will you handle item creation? Do you lower treasure (gold) given in addition to actual items given? Or do you just eliminate the Enchant Magic Item ritual trees?

Like I said, either treasure (including the monetary variety) needs to be reduced, or a lot of money sinks should be instituted. Enchant Magic Item might need to be removed or modified under Pluisjen's suggestion to keep people from making epic items at level 11, but in the original version item creation proceeds as normal for the item's adjusted level.

That said, to keep the right feel you might want to replace residuum with power components. The total cost of the Enchant Magic Item ritual would be the same, but 1/5 of the component cost would have to be quested for. A +1 vicious weapon, for instance (a level 7 item), might require 520 gp of rare Baatorian Greensteel as well as 2080 gp in regular components. If the sword were then disenchanted, instead of 520 gp of residuum you'd get the same amount of greensteel.

But yeah, I'm not entirely sure what to do about money yet.

Also, one thing not taken into account: Critical Hits. In the 4e system, you ad d6,d8,10s or d12s per +1 of the item each time they critical hit. While critical hits are rare enough that that may not be a big deal, for a class like a dagger master who is supposed to critical hit 15% of the time, that can be a huge deficit for their class. How would you suggest handling that?

I think the
Some items and powers will need changing: item properties that scale relative to enhancement bonus (Bloodclaw, for instance) will have to be increased to twice the enhancement bonus.

clause should cover that. +3 weapons would deal an extra six dice of damage on a crit.
Hm, yeah the other items might be troublesome...

Ok, scrap my first idea. It's even easier to rebalance everything, just double the level for all weapons, armor, and other items with an enhancement bonus.
That fixes when you can craft it, what it costs, and when you should get it.
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Yeah, that's probably best. Items are priced as if they had twice their enhancement bonus.

I was just looking at the treasure tables, and noticed that, each level, the PCs get one item of each level from level+1 to level+4, plus enough money to get two more items of the same level as the party.

Now, each PC normally goes through six weapons, six amulets, and six suits of armour over the course of their career: one of each bonus. 5 PCs x 3 slots x 6 bonuses = 90 items. Under my system, each PC will have only 3 items for each slot, for a total of 45 items.

What this means is that we just have to remove an average of 1.5 treasure packets each level to keep things balanced. I suggest alternating the highest-level item with the two lowest-level items, although that's just off the top of my head. But as far as I can tell, other than that treasure won't have to be reduced at all.

I think that makes sense.
I like the idea.. a big issue I see is neck items. Neck items get pluses at the same rate as weapons... so unless everyone gets +1 to fort/ref/will to start and +1 each 5 levels, you're gonna lose out on stats from the items... IDK if doing that is such a swell idea. Also, certain items have no actual effect, just a larger die for extra crit damage.


A possible fix would be to have an extra die for crit per 5 levels (rather than plus), and in cases where the item's only bonus is the increase in size, have that be it's property...

I'm assuming your idea cuts the cost on magic items too? (Sorry, I'm exhausted and didn't have motivation to read all of your post)
I like the idea.. a big issue I see is neck items. Neck items get pluses at the same rate as weapons... so unless everyone gets +1 to fort/ref/will to start and +1 each 5 levels, you're gonna lose out on stats from the items... IDK if doing that is such a swell idea.

Neck slot items follow exactly the same progression as weapons. So yeah, everybody gets +1 to each defense every 5 levels.

Also, certain items have no actual effect, just a larger die for extra crit damage.
A possible fix would be to have an extra die for crit per 5 levels (rather than plus), and in cases where the item's only bonus is the increase in size, have that be it's property...

The way we have it going right now, crits and other effects that depend on an item's bonus instead depend on twice the bonus. A +1 vicious weapon deals +2d12 damage on a crit; if the weapon were improved to +2, it would deal +4d12 on a crit.

I originally thought about allowing intermediate steps, such as a +2 vicious weapon with only +3d12 dice of damage, but decided it would be more complicated than necessary and would also work against part of the original aim, which was to reduce the rate of item acquisition.

I'm assuming your idea cuts the cost on magic items too? (Sorry, I'm exhausted and didn't have motivation to read all of your post)

Actually, items are more expensive now. A +3 amulet costs as much as if it were +6.
Evidently my memory was muddy: proper masterwork armour doesn't appear until level 4. Applying a minor change to make up for that.
I'm actually working on something similar. Characters get a bonus to attacks and defenses (including AC), based on level: 03: +1, 05: +2, 09: +3, 13: +4, 15: +5, 19: +6, 23: +7, 25: +8, 29: +9. If you wear heavy armor, you get an extra bonus to AC: 07: +1, 11: +2, 17: +3, 21: +4, 27: +5. No masterwork armor. No expertise feats, no paragon/robust defenses. Maximum one of the following feats (or two if you have at least 19 Str and Con, Dex and Int, or Wis and Cha): great fortitude, lightning reflexes, iron will, epic fortitude/reflex/will, unyielding fortitude, opportune reflexes, or indomitable will. Armor specialization feats no longer grant +1 AC (but should each do something else useful instead).

For magic items, you get all of their normal bonuses besides enhancement bonuses to attacks or defenses, including damage, bonus critical damage, properties, powers, etc. You also apply up to a +1 bonus to attacks and defenses if the item is higher level than you are. You should never end up with a lower bonus from this though. For instance, if you were level 10 with a level 11 weapon, and reached level 11, but your attack bonus did not increase, you still get the +1 from the item until level 12. New items you pick up after you get to level 11 would not be affected (the item you had is sort of grandfathered in at its current bonus).

The bonuses show up at kind of strange levels, but I think they work out well. They're all odd numbered levels, since you already get +1 at each even level. At level 7 or 8, you get a bonus from heavy armor or ability score increase (if you didn't get it at 4), so I went for level 5 instead of 6 for the second increase. Level 5/15/25 is also in line with how Expertise feats worked.

Maybe you can draw some inspiration from that?
Great work. I'll definitely be using this. Now, if I may suggest a very small change to keep things from getting too verbose.

Just drop all magic items into the same bag in terms of bonuses. All magic items with an enhancement bonus, be they weapons, implements, or armor all act in the same way. +1 at Heroic, +2 at Paragon, and +3 at Epic.

Personally, I did away with D&D's loot system long ago, so I have no gold sink problems. Heck, in my current campaign I'm not handing out gold at all. Just tailored rewards as they become appropriate.

I love this set up. Again, I'll be using this in my next session. It should make the players happy to find out they suddenly have a couple free feat slots.
Goober, your idea is interesting, and the math works well. One small criticism: the limitation on Iron Will-type feats seems unnecessary to me. Removing that clause would be to your advantage. The strange level business is also a turn-off to me (I'd probably forget to add nothing at levels 7 and 11), but if it works for you, have fun with it!

Yeah, PrimeSonic, I agree that my armour clause is a bit awkward. And good catch on the implements: I'll add those right away.

My sole reason for doing armour the way I did is the situation that arises when you wear heavy armour and so can't apply Dex or Int to AC. In the standard system, masterwork armour deals with the problem quite elegantly, which is why I used it here.

However, in retrospect it isn't as good for my system as I'd thought. The armour clause is certainly confusing; even worse is the fact that a suit of level 12 braidmail grants a smaller bonus than level 17 forgemail, which is troublesome in a system that's trying to reduce item turnover.

So, let's change something. My question to you all is: what do you think is the simplest way to handle heavy armour? Should we double the enhancement bonus? Redefine masterwork armours? Do something else entirely?
I did some number crunching and I think I found the answer.

First off, I'd treat magic armor (and necklaces) with the same criteria as weapons: +1 enhancement bonus per tier.

Next I did the math and found out that, yes, light armor will have greater AC at higher levels than heavy armor due to scaling ability scores.

That being said, we should be keen to note the three base types of armor per category. Like scale armor has normal scale, wyrmscale, and elderscale.
The light armors get a +1 AC bonus per grade while the heavy armors get a +3 enhancement bonus per grade.

If you upgrade the base armor to it's higher grade version each tier, then it all adds up perfectly with heavy armors staying on top of the AC curve. Looking at the minimum enhancement bonuses, it seems pretty clear that these higher grade versions are meant to come into play around halfway through paragon and epic tier play respectively. I think this is what they had in mind for us to do but didn't explicitly mention anywhere.

I'd suggest levels 14-16 as an appropriate threshold for upping the grade on armor. Either way, this works out elegantly and keeps everyone where they need to be.
If you check the Adventurer's Vault, they added in additional masterwork heavy armors. Not counting the ones with special properties, they actually scale heavy armor more evenly. Worth a look for your consideration.

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71235715 wrote:
Looks good. The idea is to keep the base AC bonus of the armor moving along as the PCs progress. Keeping it from going in giant leaps is a nice touch.
Oh yes, of course we need something to balance out the slower AC increase of heavy armour users. That's the point.

The thing is, we can't use the old masterwork system, because the bonuses would be all off. We could balance it by changing the bonuses granted by masterwork items (reduce them by 1/tier, so light armour grants no masterwork bonus and heavy armour only grants +2 per tier), or by scrapping masterwork altogether and just saying that heavy armour triples its enhancement bonus. Or alternately we can keep my original idea, have magic armour only ever grant a +1 enhancement bonus, and retain the original masterwork system. The only question is which method is simpler.

Also, ff6shadow, although I dearly love the AV masterwork armours, they cause only trouble here. When we have only three levels of armour, and are trying to cut down on the need for new items, big jumps are actually desirable.

Imagine you have your +2 wyrmscale, and are waiting until you're high enough level for +3 elderscale. What happens if you find out that there's such thing as +2 nagascale, which fits somewhere between the two in terms of quality? Suddenly you need some nagascale to stay competitive, and that's another item you have to get somehow.
The properties complicate it yes, but the masterwork is still relevant. It was one of the first oddities I noticed in 4th edition, that heavy armor would start ahead (depending on armor, and how high your forced your Dex/Int), and the it would waver, dropping be,ow light armor before suddenly jumpng back ahead when the masterwork property jumped in.

With the propertyles AV masterwork armors, it smoother out and became a steady slope instead of steps.

As for how to implement it, I see two major choices. Apply a price to masterwork armors, and let a PC buy non-magical masterwork armor.

Alternatively, make it a property of heay armor. A character wearing heavy armor does not get to apply Dexterity od Intelligence to AC, but gains a flat bonus to AC at the following levels: 6, 11, 16, and 26th level.

With the second method, add an equal note to light armors (+1 at 16th and 26th), and you have removed masterwork armor entirely, having built it into the system.

(I'm typing this in a hurry, so I may have mistyped something here or there)

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71235715 wrote:
I'm all for reducing item dependence and feat taxes, but I have a couple questions:
  • Magic weapons, implements, and neck slot items grant a +1 enhancement bonus every 10 levels instead of every 5.

Why use enhancement bonuses at all?

  • Magic armour only ever grants a +1 enhancement bonus, but can be made masterwork at the usual levels.

And if you're leaving them in, why limit AC enhancement more than the others? Also, why not replace masterwork armor with extra level bonuses?

Myself, I ban masterwork armor and all the feat taxes. Then I give +1 to all attacks and defenses at levels 11, 15, 21 and 25. If you wear heavy armor, you double that bonus for AC. In past games I've simply replaced enhancement bonuses with extra level bonuses at 3, 7, 13, 17, 23 and 27.
With everything as it is now, the only thing that's missing is to account for the base increases of armor at different tiers.
Light armor gets a base increase of +1 per tier
Heavy armor gets a base increase of +3 per tier

If you don't want to get all crazy about recalculating numbers or replacing items, just consider the characters receiving some type of armor mastery bonus that increases the base AC of their armor by +1 or +3 per tier respectively.

Personally, I think having big jumps of numbers at levels 1, 11, and 21 help emphasize that the PCs have move on to a much higher playing field than before. For this, I think it's best to keep the big jumps rather than try to smooth things out too much.
Another reason for this is that fewer changes equates to fewer errors in bookkeeping. A lot of times my players have had several critical bonuses incorrectly calculated from having so many changes over the course of the campaign.
When we reach important levels, like 6,11,16, etc, we simply scrap the sheets altogether and recalculate them from scratch. I think this helps keep errors to a minimum.

So, that's what I suggest for now. Ignore the different types of base armor and just give the players a bonuses that increases the base AC of that armor.
With everything as it is now, the only thing that's missing is to account for the base increases of armor at different tiers.
Light armor gets a base increase of +1 per tier
Heavy armor gets a base increase of +3 per tier

Yes. Yes, exactly. This is the point I've been trying to get across. The only question has been how to best phrase this.

If you don't want to get all crazy about recalculating numbers or replacing items, just consider the characters receiving some type of armor mastery bonus that increases the base AC of their armor by +1 or +3 per tier respectively.

This would work well as far as brevity and simplicity are concerned... but something feels off about it. Essentially PCs get a major free bonus just for putting on a suit of heavy armour--and not from the armour itself, mind you, but just by virtue of being heroes. I can understand armour mastery feats, since they represent extra training with a specific armour type, but this kind of thing, not so much. Mayyybe it would work if you only got the heavy armour bonus for armour you're proficient with? I'm not sure.

Another reason for this is that fewer changes equates to fewer errors in bookkeeping. A lot of times my players have had several critical bonuses incorrectly calculated from having so many changes over the course of the campaign.

Oh yeah, definitely. This happens in my group all the time.


I'm all for reducing item dependence and feat taxes, but I have a couple questions:

Why use enhancement bonuses at all?

That depends. Are you asking "why call them enhancement bonuses?", or "why have magic items grant bonuses at all? Why not just give the bonuses to the PCs at the appropriate levels?"

If it's the first, well, aesthetic reasons. If it's the second, the answer is a little more complicated.

See, I like using magic items. I think they're an important part of the game. It's true that the math works better overall when you gain bonuses at a regular rate, at specific predefined levels; still, in my opinion the game works better when there's some surprise to be had.

Example: Say all numerical bonuses come from the PCs themselves. At some point, your PC gains a level. "Hurrah," you say. "An extra +1 to attacks and defenses." Some time later you find a magic sword which deals +1d6 on crits. "Thanks, DM-guy," you say. "That's pretty cool!"

Now say items grant enhancement bonuses up to +3. You won't get that free bonus as often, but now that sword is going to be a lot better. You have no idea when you're going to find it; could be anywhere in that tier. But when you do find that sword, suddenly it's a weapon of remarkable power. +1 to all attacks (and you know how rare attack bonuses are in this game) and damage, and even more on a crit. "Wow, guys," you say. "This sword we found is awesome!"

I guess what I'm trying to say is that it's generally more fun to get a bonus in a way that feels like you earned it (say, by breaking into a treasury) that to get the bonus handed to you for free (say, by leveling up). The important thing is to make sure that items feel like something new and exciting each time you find them, which is why I chose the middle ground between items-go-up-to-+6 (items become too common) and items-go-up-to-0 (items are too weak).

I hope that answers your question, at least in part.


And if you're leaving them in, why limit AC enhancement more than the others? Also, why not replace masterwork armor with extra level bonuses?

AC enhancement isn't limited more than the others; it's just that the +1s other items get in the paragon and epic tiers are already included in the masterwork armour's bonuses.


Anyway, I think I'm going to edit the OP a bit more. It still won't be perfect, but at least we'll reduce the confusion with heavy masterwork armour a little bit.
This would work well as far as brevity and simplicity are concerned... but something feels off about it. Essentially PCs get a major free bonus just for putting on a suit of heavy armour--and not from the armour itself, mind you, but just by virtue of being heroes. I can understand armour mastery feats, since they represent extra training with a specific armour type, but this kind of thing, not so much. Mayyybe it would work if you only got the heavy armour bonus for armour you're proficient with? I'm not sure.

The way I think of it is, superior equipment is much more effectively used by experienced people than inferior equipment. For example, give Bill Gates an ultra-basic computer with a dial-up connection. He'd be able to get a little bit more out of it than me, but not noticeably more. It's still an inferior piece of equipment, with small potential for use. Now give him his own personal computer. Now he can program it to answer his phone, do his dishes, write correspondence, manage all his money and hack into the Pentagon all at once.

Light armor is inferior equipment, which is why PCs only get slightly better (+1s) at using it as they gain experience. Heavy armor is superior gear, which is why PCs can use it more effectively (+2s) as they gain experience.

See, I like using magic items. I think they're an important part of the game. It's true that the math works better overall when you gain bonuses at a regular rate, at specific predefined levels; still, in my opinion the game works better when there's some surprise to be had.

I see. Personally I don't think a rare +1 is any more fun than a common +1, but maybe that's just my whole-hog attitude. If you're going to butcher magical items, you may as well cut away all the fat to get to the meat.
Shrug. I don't think there's anything wrong with your view--heck, I can think of a few settings, specifically lower-magic ones, where I'd probably use it myself--but it's definitely a bit of a niche variant. It gives the game quite a different feel from the original version. The system I'm putting together is intended more as a fix for the standard playstyle than a complete conceptual overhaul.

As much as I hate to perpetuate a horrible, horrible cliche, all I can really say is that you aren't my target audience.
So as far as armor goes, there still needs to be a comfortable way of getting those per tier improvements.

The best way I can see would be have them receive new armor with the extra AC along the way. So you'd replace your +1 Plate armor for a +2 Warplate armor.

Or scrap the different types of armor completely and grant the PCs mastery over light or heavy armor, increasing the base AC of the armor by +1 or +3 per tier.

Or play off masterwork armor again and use the word "masterwork" to replace the different grades of armor. Have masterwork give the +1/+3 increase to base AC of the armor per tier.
You can treat it independently from enhancement bonuses in case you don't want to give them +2 armor at level 11 and want to wait a little more.

Currently, those are the only possibilities I can see right now. Granted, it's still morning and I haven't woken up fully yet.

EDIT:
Could you explain why you're making this change?
# Powers with an attack line of "(ability) +2/+4/+6 vs. (defense)" now read "(ability) vs. (defense)".

Powers like this are usually trading damage for accuracy. Removing that extra attack bonus without taking the damage into consideration seems odd. Care to elaborate?
So as far as armor goes, there still needs to be a comfortable way of getting those per tier improvements.

Right, exactly.

Just to put this out there explicity, these are all the ways of handling heavy armour we've looked at so far:
  • Magic heavy armour grants an extra +2 to AC in paragon tier, and a further +2 to AC in epic tier. Masterwork armour no longer exists. (This is what I have in the OP currently.)
  • Masterwork light armour no longer exists. Masterwork heavy armour now follows this table:
    Armor Name AC Bonus Enhancement<br /> Forgemail + 8 +2<br /> Spiritmail +10 +3<br /> Wyrmscale + 9 +2<br /> Elderscale +11 +3<br /> Warplate +10 +2<br /> Godplate +12 +3

  • At level 11, characters gain a +2 bonus to AC while wearing heavy armour with which they are proficient. This bonus increases to +4 at level 21.


The best way I can see would be have them receive new armor with the extra AC along the way. So you'd replace your +1 Plate armor for a +2 Warplate armor.

You like the second method, I take it? I'm leaning that way as well, although the need for new tables makes me pause.


Could you explain why you're making this change?

Powers like this are usually trading damage for accuracy. Removing that extra attack bonus without taking the damage into consideration seems odd. Care to elaborate?

I talked about doing this in the original post, but it was at the bottom of the "long-winded rant version" so it's not surprising you missed it. The powers I'm referring to are mostly racial powers like Dragon Breath and Darkfire. The original powers need the +2/+4/+6 bonus to make up for the fact that they don't benefit from enhancement bonuses; in my system, however, that +1 to 6 bonus is built right into the character, and applies to all attacks.

This rule wasn't intended to hurt powers like Sure Strike, but I can see how it would be read that way. If you can think of a less ambiguous way to phrase the rule, I'd love to hear it.
I talked about doing this in the original post, but it was at the bottom of the "long-winded rant version" so it's not surprising you missed it. The powers I'm referring to are mostly racial powers like Dragon Breath and Darkfire. The original powers need the +2/+4/+6 bonus to make up for the fact that they don't benefit from enhancement bonuses; in my system, however, that +1 to 6 bonus is built right into the character, and applies to all attacks.

This rule wasn't intended to hurt powers like Sure Strike, but I can see how it would be read that way. If you can think of a less ambiguous way to phrase the rule, I'd love to hear it.

Try rewording the rule to something like this instead to avoid confusion:
"Powers that lack the weapon or implement keyword loose all attack bonuses listed in the power's attack roll. Example: Strength +2 vs. AC now becomes Strength vs. AC."


As far as how to deal with armor improvements in the paragon and epic tiers, personally, I like option 2 best. We already have to account for a bunch of bonuses to attack, defenses, and damage with no type or explanation. Adding another set of unnamed bonuses will probably only cause more problems than it solves and might cause some confusion.

So my recommendation would be to make sure the PCs upgrade their armor somewhere between levels 12-15 and 22-25, perhaps making it a significant story moment.

Back to the no-name bonuses.... got any ideas of a name/type for them so they make sense when being written down?
Try rewording the rule to something like this instead to avoid confusion:
"Powers that lack the weapon or implement keyword loose all attack bonuses listed in the power's attack roll. Example: Strength +2 vs. AC now becomes Strength vs. AC."

I've changed it to be more like your suggestion, with some modifications to reflect how some powers grant a bonus of +4/+6/+8, or even more.

As far as how to deal with armor improvements in the paragon and epic tiers, personally, I like option 2 best.

Done! Thanks for your input!

Back to the no-name bonuses.... got any ideas of a name/type for them so they make sense when being written down?

I've arbitrarily decided to call it a "mastery bonus". I imagine, however, that when DMG2 comes out, we'll be able to use the wording for legendary/divine/master-trained boons they mentioned in the preview.
Igfig - I love you, and want to have your babies.

Seriously, I've been grappling with something like this for ages, trying to replicate the 'feel' of AD&D with the new edition.

Thanks for all your hard work.
To let you know, out group just adopted these rules and will be trying them out next monday.
Some big impact was seem as our fighter saw a big increase in attack modifier. (And our barbarian just discovered Power Attack)

They've just hit level 11 and from here on I plan on mostly sending them monsters 2-3 levels above them since they have such an easy time.
I'll let you know how it goes.

That seems kinda weird.  Why did they get a big attack increase?  They should maybe go up by 1.


Do they have Weapon Expertise? They may not have gotten rid of that, which will throw the numbers off considerably.  Have them retrain it instantly; that feat doesn't exist any more.


Are their weapons too powerful for their tier?  In my system, they should have +1s, maybe +2s.  If they all had +3s and you didn't change that, that's a free +1 bonus. Also they now have weapons of epic power, which is a little weird.


Are their weapons too weak for their tier?  In the old system, they should have had +3s.  If you were giving them weaker weapons than were appropriate, the switch to my system could give them a nice boost.  This is perfectly okay and not to be feared.

Don't worry, the numbers are correct. Our fighter didn't even have Weapon Expertise to start with. The difference was seen as she went from hitting nothing, to actually hitting. XD


Also, take note that at least 2/3 of these players are pretty heavy optimizers, so they get bonuses from all over the place. As far as simply hitting enemy defenses go, they have usually been alright. It's just now that I can throw the big guns at them.


Another important detail to keep in mind is that I'm running these 3 as Gestalt PCs, so their power is already pretty enhanced.


Tomorrow they'll finally be facing some really tough armored foes. We'll see how that all works out. They're at level 11 and were hitting AC 30s with fair consistency, so it's time to toss a few big boys in there with heavy damage as see what happens next. I'll have an update on the situation by sunday.


 


 

I guess I'm just curious.  I didn't expect any significant change at all in the math, and now I'm wondering how it all happened.  I took a look at your Gestalt rules, and I don't see anything in there that could cause the change you described.


If it's not too much trouble, could you post a breakdown of one of your PCs' attack bonus before and after the switch?  Just to satisfy my curiosity.

Will do. I'll edit in the info into this post tonight.


The biggest changes were for PCs that didn't have Weapon Expertise. The rest practically didn't change, but our Fighter was having bad luck too. Anyways, I figure we'll be running with these rules for a good while, if not from now on.


EDIT:


Okay, it seems there was a problem on calculation on my part. (There was a shield with an enhancement bonus) I've rectified that and the numbers are finally balanced again.


Another thing I'm doing is I'm refraining from improving the base armor bonus of the PCs until at least level 15. They simply do not need the increase this soon since technically at this level they would be using +3 armor.


So the numbers turned out alright, but I had a defender that skewed my numbers to the point of insanity by my own fault. That's been fixed and things should proceed smoothly from here on.

...ohhhh.  I see now.


Never mind, I think I get it now.   My mind wasn't quite connecting the "doesn't have Weapon Expertise" with the "has a lower attack bonus".

Our fighter has crazy luck. For whatever involved her AC or defending against damage in any way, the dice are always in her favor. But when it comes to any offensive roll, the dice will turn against her.


She didn't optimize her attack rolls (no feats) so when she got the extra bonus out of nowhere, she finally started hitting this again. sadly, her dice luck still keep her from being all that offensive.


It's a sad but true story. I guess this is probably why she wants to play a striker rather than a defender in whatever campaign we do next.


 


EDIT: She also had a 16 in Strength at level 12.

Necroing this thread as it seems the topic keeps coming back.

I'd like to make the mention that the progression we've adopted at my table for the increases mentioned is now at 1,5,11,15,21,25. Or any level that ends in 1 or 5.
This keeps the increases smooth and avoids huge jumps in the bonuses.
Heya PrimeSonic, just wanted to point out that the progression 1, 5, 11, 15, 21, 25 doesn't seem like it's accounting for the Expertise feats. If you kept those feats as written, there will be a jump at levels 15 and 25, and possibly level 1, 11 and 21 where the increase in attack coincide with the expertise bonus (if Expertise was taken at levels 1, 11 or 21).

If you're planning on using a progression that replaces magic enhancement bonuses, consider 1, 7, 11, 17, 21, and 27 for attack and damage, and provide an additional boost to attack only at levels 5, 15, 25 to simulate the Expertise feats.

Nevertheless, there may always be the chance of having a jump at level 21, where a PC may gain up to +3 to attack and damage from:

A. Starting with an even attack score and boosting it every time (e.g. 18 => 24)
B. Getting an ED that gives +2 to their attack score (e.g. Demigod boost from 24-26)
C. Getting the aforementioned enhancement bonus (at level 21)

If option B was not taken, or the PC started out with an odd score, there won't be a jump at level 21.
Not wanting to sound rude, but we already considered a lot of combinations. I only chose this 1,5 pattern because it spreads the bonuses out a little more smoothly.
Remember, the idea was to make enhancement bonuses pretty, but not necessary, and remove the Expertise and Defenses feats, all this while keeping the system as simple as possible.

Yes, the PCs will have an extra +1 to damage per tier that wasn't there before. Is that really so big a problem that it justifies having to keep track to two separate lists?

If you take a look at what was done, nothing really changes. The numbers end up being exactly the same as PCs of the same level, with level appropriate gear, all with Expertise and Defenses feats.

It's been months since we've started using these house rules and not only do I use them in my own games, but anyone from the group will also use them whenever they DM.

Here's a quick recap of the rules just to make clear what we do:

Removal of all feats of generic +1 to attack roll or to all non-AC defenses.
(Weapon Expertise, Implement Expertise, Paragon Defenses, Robust Defenses etc)
Feats that grant damage bonuses are still available as normal.

Heroic tier magic items have a +1 enhancement bonus
Paragon tier magic items have a +2 enhancement bonus
Epic tier magic items have a +3 enhancement bonus
All effects that depend on the item's enhancement bonus, including but not limited to: item level, price, crit dice, and many properties, instead depend on twice the enhancement bonus.
Enhancement bonuses just add to the damage roll as normal

All characters receive the following at levels 1,5,11,15,21,25:
+1 to all attack rolls
+1 to all defenses
+1 to all damage rolls
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