[CCG RULES] Proposed Improved 'Found Item Rule'

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The current rule for found items is pretty clever ..but Brian Gibbons came up with a better one on the LFR yahoo group:

Instead of tying the nuymber of found items to character level, tie them to the item level, letting each character 'find' an item for each item level (up to cl+4 still) -allowing people to take items is higher 'slots': eg two 4th level items but no 5th level item.

This has a number of advantages:
- no hoarding of 'slots' (and none wasted)
- people could* be allowed to swap found items of the same level (possibly at some cost).
- lowers the benefits of metagaming
- very good emulation of a 'normal' game
- more friendly to the new or casual player
get to pick more exciting new items inthe first few levels
the ability to swap found items makes planning ahead (and knowing the
potential items) less important

Under such a system found items could still be sold but the cash would then fill the 'slot' for that level.

Drawbacks:
- you would need to track the magic item levels for your found items as well as the number of such items; trivially done in a list of those items.


* It's not practical do allow this under the current system. If allowing such swaps is not considered a benefit then it is just as easily disallowed.
It's a rule that could really benefit from rewriting anyway even if no change is made.
I think the rule could be very straightforward without any big issues. Namely:
You may have a number of found items = level. So you stick more closely to DMG wealth.

At each level, you gain a slot = your level +4. So at 1st level, you gain a slot 5. At 2nd, you gain a 6. And so on. This slot can be filled with a magic item of that level or lower. So at 2nd level, your 6 slot can be filled with a 6th, a 5th, or other item lower than 7th.

If you sell a found item, it stays closed unless you use up a level retraining on that particular slot.

------

The system has the following advantages:
It mimics DMG wealth very closely.
There's no real advantages to hoarding or metagaming the system.
There's an advantage to simply taking gold.
If someone new to the game makes a serious mistake, it can be overcome(at a minor cost) - say along the lines of taking 4 weapons in the first 4 levels.
Maybe I'm reading it wrong, but I don't see this proposed system doing anything better than the current system.

Unless the intent is to essentially give characters 4 more found magic items than they currently can have, this proposed system is actually more limiting than the current system. That's what it sounds like this proposal is saying, that instead of a level 1 character having 1 item of up to level 5, they can have 5 items of levels 1-5 each. That's not an improvement, it's just giving people more stuff, and breaking the item/wealth curve for lower levels.

It's supposed friendliness and meta-gaming reducing hinges entirely on the ability to swap out chosen items. Otherwise it isn't better, just more. So if someone fills up all their items for item levels 1 through X for their level, they still can't take another item until they gain another level. Which means you've still got the same complaints, just maybe pushed back a level or two if you're simply allowing 4 additional item slots to start out.

All you do is remove or reduce the item choice "hoarding" which if you want to do, you just set an item level limit on each slot like MwaO suggested. But again without the ability to swap item choices this is no friendlier to newer or more casual players. If anything it introduces more "magic item anxiety" because now you might hit 3rd or 4th level without taking an item and suddenly be worried that you won't find any level 5 or less items to fill that slot if you don't pick one right now off this mod's list. Right now, do it!

Really this seems all about the ability to swap one choice for something better you find later (within the same item level range.) I personally don't like it, because it removes any consequence of choice you make. You'll simply grab whatever shiney, or more likely highest level so you can liquidate it for more gold later if you never need that slot, item without a care because you can always dump it for something shinier you might find tomorrow.

Again, this just strikes me as giving more, not giving better.
You are misunderstanding.
You could perfectly well start with a 5th level item slot at 1st level (no slots for 1-4 though obviously the 5th level slot could be used for such items instead of a 5th) and swapping out is not necessary though I agree that being able to allow it is a major benefit.

The point is to link the found items to item level rather than just character level. As it stands there's a big incentive to delay taking (some of your) found items until higher level when you can get better items in those slots thereby breaking the wealth guidelines.
[pretty much what MwaO suggested]

AS to simply grabbing whatever shiny item comes along.. that's seems to me to be exactly how a 'normal' game works ...well as a group anyway. "Shall we use this useful magic item?" is not a question that's likely to come up.
There would always be a penalty to swapping out an item in that you would be missing out on a 'more gold' packet that you would otherwise have had -cost coudl also be increased by making it take up a retraining slot but that doesn't work so well since the retraining is unlikely to be available at the same time as the item).
[you also can't allow people to sell items and then find more in the same slot without giving up the gold]

I hadn't thought of lower level items no longer turning up at higher levels and I can see that that might be something of an issue but the way costs escalate in 4E, the wealth lost by not taking an item that has fallen below the threshold is close to negligible and will rapidly diminish in significance from there as you advance.
Greetings...

As it stands there's a big incentive to delay taking (some of your) found items until higher level when you can get better items in those slots thereby breaking the wealth guidelines.

I've seen this argument from several posters on various boards, and I'm not sure that I agree with it. I agree that it might *look* like there is a big incentive to delay taking some of your found items until higher level, but when I do the math, I don't come to the same conclusion.

In theory, if it is advantageous to delay picking magic items until you reach a higher level so that you can get more total items of higher levels, it should be possible for us to work backwards from 30th level to find the "sweet spot" at which you will get the largest advantage from this strategy.

Clearly you don't want to wait until 30th level before you start choosing items. You get 30 found item slots over your character's entire career, but since you can only choose one item per adventure, and since it only takes 3 adventures to gain a level, if you wait until 30th level then you will end up with no more than 3 magic items tops which means your other 27 slots are wasted. So that's not the sweet spot.

Following the same logic you really can't wait any longer than 21st level before you start choosing. At 3 adventures per level you would theoretically get to use up all 30 of your magic item slots on epic-tier items. Of course this begs the question of whether there are actually 30 epic-tier items that any single character could use. I don't think that is the case, at least looking strictly at what is in the PH (not to mention the fact that you can only use a certain number of total items because of slot limitations, you are limited in the number of magic item daily powers you can activate per day, and there aren't that many epic-tier magic items to begin with -- for example, all the wondrous items in the PH are 20th level or lower). Granted this will increase via Dragon magazine and additional sourcebooks (particularly Adventurer's Vault) but I still don't think waiting until 21st level so that you can use all 30 of your picks at the epic tier is going to be optimal.

So let's scale it back to 11th level and say that you wait to start choosing until you reach the paragon tier. Now you will get twice as many paragon-level magic items as you would have gotten had you started "wasting" your slots between levels 1-10. Of course, it will take you 11 adventures to fill the 11 slots that you have at 11th level, by which time you will be nearly 15th level from having played those 11 adventures, and you'll have acquired another 3-4 slots, so realistically this means you're at 16th level by the time you have "caught up" and filled all your slots with those more vaulable paragon-tier items. Let's assume that you got incredibly lucky and managed to get an item of the maximum possible level every time (your character level + 4) even though that is probably unlikely. (Remember that you cannot choose a found item whose level is greater than your character level plus 4.)

You would have the following items:

11th level ... 3 x L15 item
12th level ... 3 x L16 item
13th level ... 3 x L17 item
14th level ... 3 x L18 item
15th level ... 3 x L19 item

So, how much more wealth do you actually have vs. a character who has been filling his magic item slots more or less as he went along? Well, the sale price of a magic item is 20% of the item's market price. Since you have three items of each level, you could turn them all into gold and get 60% of the value of one item of each level from 15 - 19.

L15 item = 25000 gp x 0.6 = 15000 gp
L16 item = 45000 gp x 0.6 = 27000 gp
L17 item = 65000 gp x 0.6 = 39000 gp
L18 item = 85000 gp x 0.6 = 51000 gp
L19 item = 105000 gp x 0.6 = 63000 gp

But selling everything at this point would be an incredibly bad trade-off because the sale price of a magic item of level N is equal to the purchase price of a magic item of level N - 5. (e.g. a L6 item sells for 360 gp which is the market price of a L1 magic item.)

Your total gold pieces earned from selling the above items = 195,000 gp which is certainly a lot of scratch. But wait a minute. What is there for you to buy in the game world economy other than ... more magic items? I mean I guess you could buy 19.5 ships (which cost 10K) but I'm not sure how that gives you a huge advantage over a character who does not possess 19.5 ships unless you are angling for the as-yet-unwritten Merchant Prince epic destiny.

195,000 gold pieces is nowhere near enough cash to properly equip a 16th-level character. (It's less than five 16th-level magic items, which would cost 225,000 gp.) In fact there is no point at which you can follow a strategy of selling everything you have found up to that point and using the cash to buy a complete set of level-appropriate magic items because you will never generate enough cash using that method.

So clearly the reason for thinking this is a better strategy cannot be because you are going to end up with a massive pile of gold which you can then use to fully equip yourself with the best possible items for your level. You're going to end up much worse off under this scenario as soon as you start selling your items. And I would bet that by following the strategy of "always choose the highest-level item in the list of treasure bundles no matter what that item is" you are going to end up with a ton of items that aren't useful for your character, so the strategy also fails on that basis even if you never start selling off the items because you're going to be carting around a lot of what amounts to useless junk that you chose simply because it had the maximum possible level. (Remember, not every adventure will even have a magic item that is appropriate for your character, because there are only going to be about 4-6 magic items to choose from. And the longer you wait to use your picks, the more picks you generate, until you hit 21st level and you are back to the base case that I defined earlier.)

There is also the opportunity cost of going 10 levels without choosing any magic items. Without going into the full details (you can recreate my math using a copy of the writer's guidelines if you are so inclined) it seems to me that a character who chooses the "more gold" option for each of his first 30 adventures (which would cover the entire heroic tier) and never picks a found item is going to end up with about 8,500 gold pieces total from those 30 adventures. (You could do better than this amount if you always play the higher-level version, but doing so means a higher risk of getting killed, which I think will end up reducing your income by more than the extra gold you get from playing up, because of the 500 gp penalty you take every time you have to pay for a Raise Dead ritual at the heroic tier.)

Here again the math just is not in your favor. 8,500 gold pieces is nowhere near enough to be able to buy (and sell, and re-buy) all the magic items you're going to want as you go up in level. It's not even enough for a decent subset of those items. So you're going to be woefully under-equipped for the first 10 levels of your career (admittedly this is the time when it probably hurts you the least, but then again this is also the time when even a +1 enhancement bonus helps you the most on a percentage basis).

Even if you just stick to three slots (weapon, armor, neck) and upgrade the enhancement bonuses you're going to run out of cash quickly. Three L1 magic items (+1 enhancement) will cost you 360 x 3 = 1080 gp which is more than you are going to be able to afford until you are about 3rd level. (150 gp per adventure assuming you take the more gold option every time.) Even picking a found item and selling it is not going to help you do better in that scenario until you see a L6 item in a treasure bundle, which sells for 360 gp (enough to buy *one* L1 item).

At 6th level you would want to start working on upgrading your three +1 enhancement bonus items to +2 (L6 magic). The upgrade cost is going to be 1800 gp - 360 gp = 1440 gp per item, which is 4320 gold pieces. But I just said that you're only going to make 8500 gold pieces total between levels 1-10 and you already spent the 360 gp per item to buy those L1 items in the first place so even this conservative strategy starts running out of steam at 6th level. Personally I just don't think it would be that much fun to play a character for 10 levels with few or no useful magic items.

Now maybe there is some glaring deficiency in my thinking in which case I hope someone will point it out to me, because I have looked at this problem from a number of different angles and I just do not see any significant advantage to be gained by waiting to start picking magic items until hitting the paragon tier. In fact I see that strategy as being significantly disadvantageous. But even in the absolute best case you are still trading off some of your power / some of your fun during the heroic tier which means you are going to be under-equipped until paragon-tier adventures start coming out in late 2009 or early 2010.

I do think it makes sense to leave a couple of slots open at all times, and it's certainly true that you will be given more opportunities to choose higher-level magic items when you play the high tier version of adventures vs. the low tier version. So in that regard it might make some sense to hold your picks for the back half of a level band (i.e. levels 3-4 vs. 1-2, 6-7 vs. 4-5, etc.) but even then I don't think it is necessarily optimal. For example, I don't think it is the case that every L3 magic item is strictly better for every character than the corresponding L2 magic item. Whether you would prefer a +1 vicious weapon (L2) or a +1 duelist's weapon (L3) is going to depend heavily on your class and to a lesser extent your build. It's not even that clear-cut a choice between a +1 lightning weapon (L5) and a generic +2 magic weapon (L6) because the former can deal energy damage and has a daily power whereas the latter does not.

So bottom line I guess I am just not seeing where there is a massive benefit to be gained by delaying a large number of your found magic item picks to higher level. There is a theoretical advantage in terms of total character wealth, but that advantage immediately disappears when you actually start selling the items because the exchange rate difference between selling and buying is just too great. I don't think any 15th-level character is going to be happy selling off L15 items to buy L10 items and it is basically pointless to collect and sell off enough L15 items to buy even a single L16 item. (You would have to use up nearly a third of your total found item slots which surely defeats the purpose of having saved those slots in the first place.)

I am not trying to be critical; I just don't understand where people are finding this huge advantage that I keep hearing exists by delaying a large number of picks to higher level. Sure there is a benefit to keeping a couple of your slots open at all times, but ultimately if you want to be well-equipped for your level throughout your adventuring career, you are going to need to use the bulk of your available found item slots as you go along.
Talk to you later -- Sean ---- M. Sean Molley | sean [at] basementsoftware [dot] com LFR Global Administrator
Sean,

I didn't get a chance to read all the way to the end of your post, did Captain Ahab ever catch that whale? :P

In all seriousness, I'm hoping Sean's post puts the issue to rest. The Globals have done some pretty comprehensive due diligence on this one...


Joe
Joe Fitzgerald | joerpga[at]yahoo[dot]com[dot]au LFR Global Administrator
Greetings...

did Captain Ahab ever catch that whale? :P

Yes, he ran it over at 16th level with a flotilla of 19.5 ships.
Talk to you later -- Sean ---- M. Sean Molley | sean [at] basementsoftware [dot] com LFR Global Administrator
I've seen this argument from several posters on various boards, and I'm not sure that I agree with it. I agree that it might *look* like there is a big incentive to delay taking some of your found items until higher level, but when I do the math, I don't come to the same conclusion.

I am not trying to be critical; I just don't understand where people are finding this huge advantage that I keep hearing exists by delaying a large number of picks to higher level. Sure there is a benefit to keeping a couple of your slots open at all times, but ultimately if you want to be well-equipped for your level throughout your adventuring career, you are going to need to use the bulk of your available found item slots as you go along.

I think you've confused the idea of evaluating things by 'wealth' with liquidating and repurchasing things. That's a big confusion.

Selling items is basically a loss in 4e. I think that we can agree to not look at that as a path to maximizing items or power (except in perhaps truely aberrant cases).

What this rule allows is essentially the opposite to occur. It lets the person essentially UPGRADE items by 1 or 2 tiers. By tiers in this sense I mean +5 level difference.. where items tend to pick up another +1 or added feature, etc.

The example you give has one character with triple the top tier items that the 'expected' character has. You don't need to sell anything to see he has nearly 3 times the stuff that the other has. In fact he *could* sell (gasp) items and rebuy others and come out ahead. It's THAT huge a gap. He's essentially upgraded 5 items by one tier and 5 more items by TWO tiers. He's got 5 and 25 times the worth of items respectively for those items!

The 4e item system is based around trying to keep that from happening. The resale percent value and the markup for tiering of items goes against it.

But beyond the mechanics of the advantage (which as you show garners you nearly three times the power of items as expected) is the psychological impact of it. Even if it were not advantageous to 'hoard' item choices, it is perceived to be. Which means it's going to happen.

What is going to happen as a result of this perception?

This will cause a skew in the player field in what can be expected for them to have in terms of magic items. At low levels many characters will not have as many items as would be expected.. much like how in 3e LG you had many characters with 'slow' builds that put them behind the power curve as they were planning for later. At mid to high levels where players elect to 'cash in' you will see characters with a disproportionate amount of magic items for their level. Such disparities cause ripple effects as the campaign reacts to them. In LG you had an 'arms race' in response to this power creep. How LFR reacts to it I can't say.. but if they allow it to happen so easily in the first place then I don't hold much faith in them doing better than LG in the reaction phase of this problem.

But bottom line is that it *will* skew what the core rules 'expect' characters of a given level to have in terms of magic items. And that doesn't seem to be too wise a thing to do for a treasure system. Nor does it seem to gain anything over the system that tracks the found item slots by the item level rather than the character's current level.

Is there something to the current system that it has over this one? I haven't seen it. The only thing I see in the current system's favor is that it's already been published as 'the system'.. in other words it has inertia over this one. What have I missed?

-James
The point isn't to sell the items. The point is that this character has 975000 gold worth of found items and the other guy only has 402000. That represents incentive to do something like that, even if it would appear to not be as fun in Heroic. This is especially true when you consider that there is going to be an inevitable amount of power creep as roughly 2 years go by. There are also huge jumps at certain levels(when the two masterwork armors appear, paragon vs heroic, epic vs paragon) where waiting until those items start appearing is very well worth it.

We're also talking about mathematical absolutes here - the likely correct way to do the strategy is to not find at all during the 1-4 mods, find the essential 3 items during the 4-10 mods that represent the +2/3 items you want and say one item capable of a daily power - and use the 8K of gold found to buy 1-5 level item slots with properties.

You end up having only found 4 items at 11th instead of say 9 without having had a huge loss of power during heroic. You then distribute those extra 5 found items throughout the Paragon/low Epic tiers.

And as I noted, the fix is relatively straightforward - at 1st level, you have a 5 slot, 2nd level a 6 slot, etc...and you can retrain the slots if you wish to the same level item - there's no long-term significant advantage to doing so, because at 15th level, you're probably not finding 5th level items in a mod.

What disadvantage to my system do you see? It removes the incentive to metagame the system(or worse cheat) without changing the intent of the current system. It makes the game more fun - by allowing less advanced players who made mistakes to get rid of bad choices, encouraging people to spend slots, and possibly even opening up the possibility of trading at conventions at some low cost. Because it is unlikely(as you pointed out) that people will find +4 items in every mod, there is still some incentive to have 2 high level slots open.

It also makes it easier to fix problems when someone is playing incorrectly - you make a single sheet with 30 lines on it listing all your found item slots. Administration can list the correct level of the items on that sheet to make it extremely clear. Someone other than the player can quickly figure out if the player has made some sort of mistake by looking at that sheet rather than wondering if they hoarded correctly or not.

When you can remove the advantage of metagaming/cheating the system at no real cost to the average player, I think that's an amazing thing to have in a living campaign.

Andy

You would have the following items:

11th level ... 3 x L15 item
12th level ... 3 x L16 item
13th level ... 3 x L17 item
14th level ... 3 x L18 item
15th level ... 3 x L19 item

195,000 gold pieces is nowhere near enough cash to properly equip a 16th-level character. (It's less than five 16th-level magic items, which would cost 225,000 gp.) In fact there is no point at which you can follow a strategy of selling everything you have found up to that point and using the cash to buy a complete set of level-appropriate magic items because you will never generate enough cash using that method.

I am not trying to be critical; I just don't understand where people are finding this huge advantage that I keep hearing exists by delaying a large number of picks to higher level. Sure there is a benefit to keeping a couple of your slots open at all times, but ultimately if you want to be well-equipped for your level throughout your adventuring career, you are going to need to use the bulk of your available found item slots as you go along.

My big issue with it is - I've decided I'm not going to pick up a +1 armour or weapon for my character. It feels like a waste of a slot. I'd rather pick up an armour or weapon that is +1 with another bonus or ability.

Of course.. by that time, I may decide to hold out until the +2.

Thinking long term, it makes sence to skip items that have 'small bonuses' that are nice, but are easily replaced.

Now I know you can upgrade your +1 item to +2.. but at a gold cost.

I know some of you probably think I"m being min/maxxy and maybe I am, but it's my nature to manage resources to get the most effectiveness out of what I'm doing, in the same way I'd manage mana when playing Magic: the Gathering.

I don't think that this system will truly achieve the results it is designed to achieve, and instead create abarations that are quite different.
Every +1 item has it's relative merits though. There's a big difference between a vanilla +1 longsword and a longsword that is a +1 Lifedrinker. (one's level 1 the other is level 5... both are +1) It would be silly to say that you don't want a +1 item. To Hit bonuses are few and far between in 4e. As the people on the CharOp boards say, 4e is more about DPS in combat, and to do that you either need to hit or have powers with damage on a miss (or a feat like Hammer Rythm). The longer you delay getting items, the farther behind you will fall in being able to contribute in combat. Yes, I know combat is not everything in the game, but it has the greatest chance of killing your character. :P
Sorry WOTC, you lost me with Essentials. So where I used to buy every book that came out, now I will be very choosy about what I buy. Can we just get back to real 4e? Check out the 4e Conversion Wiki. 1. Wizards fight dirty. They hit their enemies in the NADs. -- Dragon9 2. A barbarian hits people with his axe. A warlord hits people with his barbarian. 3. Boo-freakin'-hoo, ya light-slingin' finger-wigglers. -- MrCelcius in response to the Cleric's Healer's Lore nerf
I think you've confused the idea of evaluating things by 'wealth' with liquidating and repurchasing things. That's a big confusion.

I don't think I have confused the idea of "wealth" with the idea of "gold piece value" because "wealth" is meaningless. I'd rather have 400,000 gp "worth" of magic items of varying levels that are all useful to me than 975,000 gp "worth" of random magic items that I picked just because they were the highest level available but that aren't necessarily useful to me. If I can't use the items as magic items, then their only value is what I can get for selling them, and 20% of 975,000 gp is substantially less than 400,000 gp.

What can you do with "wealth" in D&D? Where is the advantage that you gain from optimizing on a metric (market price of found items) that is irrelevant? The relevant metrics are utility and sale price. Suppose I have five 15th-level magic items and you have five 10th-level magic items, but I can't use any of mine and you can use all of yours. Regardless of our actual character levels, which of us is wealthier in real gameplay terms?

Sorry, but I still don't see the incentive here to delay making most of your found item selections until you reach the higher tiers of play. I think there is an assumption that you are going to find an item that you want in every single adventure once you finally decide to start making your picks, and I can tell you that is incredibly unlikely to happen. If you knew that you were only going to find one or two items that you might actually want for every three adventures you played, would you still want to delay your picks to the paragon tier? Because by so doing you are passing up one-third of all the magic items that you will ever see during your adventuring career. Once you realize that you aren't finding enough items that you want to fill up all those slots you have been hoarding, and you are still accumulating more slots because you gain a level every 3 adventures, you are going to start picking items for no other reason than their market price, whereupon you are going to be caught in the "liquidation" trap that I explained in my earlier post.
Talk to you later -- Sean ---- M. Sean Molley | sean [at] basementsoftware [dot] com LFR Global Administrator
If you knew that you were only going to find one or two items that you might actually want for every three adventures you played, would you still want to delay your picks to the paragon tier?

Yes, emphatically yes. You just stated my ideal set of conditions - a useful item every other adventure. That means I pick up an extra item every other level from 11-22nd or so just as I stated I'd want to do. Basically from about 12th on, I'll have more treasure than the guy who didn't hoard.

Not to mention, even if there's only one item I want per three adventures played, I'm not limited to playing just those three adventures to get my character up a level. If a character is truly clogged up in terms of item slots, all I have to do is have another character play the mods and then replay say one or two mods I need for the items I want.

I'm not saying I'm planning to do that, but I can see a lot of players doing this and you'll end up with two set of players in Paragon tier just like LG had - those who abused the living daylights out of CWI and those who didn't. Given the loophole is easily closed, I'm not sure why it is worth risking the system to try to prove us gamers wrong.
Greetings...

So what I seem to be hearing is that there are basically three objections to the current system for "found" items:

1 - The system can be seen as unnecessarily punitive, particularly at the lowest levels, because found item choices are irrevocable. If you choose an item in your very first adventure at 1st level, you are locked out of choosing a different item until you reach 2nd level no matter what other items you might find in your next two adventures. This same problem can occur at any point where a character has used up all of his or her found item slots (until the character gains a level). There are other variations on this theme (I picked chain mail but then I take a feat that gives me training in scale mail, etc.)

2 - The system can be seen as encouraging metagaming, because some people will be so concerned by the risk of "missing out" on the best possible item for their character that they will have a strong incentive to find out ahead of time exactly what items are offered in which adventures so that they can arrange the order in which they play things to obtain the maximum benefit. (For extra consternation, season with a dash of replay rule, which makes it not only perfectly legitimate but also completely unavoidable that a player will gain advance knowledge of what treasure is in a particular adventure, which cannot help but inform his decision to replay that adventure with a different character who might want a certain item.)

3 - The system can be seen as encouraging players not to use their found item choices until higher levels, so that they will be able to fill more of their total slots with higher-level items. (I list this for the sake of completeness, even though I don't think it has much merit, as I have tried to demonstrate in my previous posts in this thread.)

Does that about sum up the objections? What other objections or concerns have been raised that do not fall into any of the above three categories?

I am certainly listening to what everyone has to say and I am not averse to the idea of recommending some changes to the system if those changes would make the system unambiguously better, but I would need to be convinced that those changes are actually strictly better than the system that has already been established, and so far I have not been convinced by anything I have seen either on this list or on the LivingFR Yahoo! Group. I don't mean that to be dismissive of the ideas people have posted or insulting of their efforts; I have seen some good ideas, and I appreciate the time and thought that has gone into these proposals. (I should also be clear that even if I personally were to become convinced that a particular change was beneficial, all I could do would be to advocate that change to the other admins and most importantly to Chris Tulach, who ultimately has the final say.)
Talk to you later -- Sean ---- M. Sean Molley | sean [at] basementsoftware [dot] com LFR Global Administrator
Greetings...

So what I seem to be hearing is that there are basically three objections to the current system for "found" items:

1 - The system can be seen as unnecessarily punitive, particularly at the lowest levels, because found item choices are irrevocable. If you choose an item in your very first adventure at 1st level, you are locked out of choosing a different item until you reach 2nd level no matter what other items you might find in your next two adventures. This same problem can occur at any point where a character has used up all of his or her found item slots (until the character gains a level). There are other variations on this theme (I picked chain mail but then I take a feat that gives me training in scale mail, etc.)

2 - The system can be seen as encouraging metagaming, because some people will be so concerned by the risk of "missing out" on the best possible item for their character that they will have a strong incentive to find out ahead of time exactly what items are offered in which adventures so that they can arrange the order in which they play things to obtain the maximum benefit. (For extra consternation, season with a dash of replay rule, which makes it not only perfectly legitimate but also completely unavoidable that a player will gain advance knowledge of what treasure is in a particular adventure, which cannot help but inform his decision to replay that adventure with a different character who might want a certain item.)

3 - The system can be seen as encouraging players not to use their found item choices until higher levels, so that they will be able to fill more of their total slots with higher-level items. (I list this for the sake of completeness, even though I don't think it has much merit, as I have tried to demonstrate in my previous posts in this thread.)

Does that about sum up the objections? What other objections or concerns have been raised that do not fall into any of the above three categories?

I am certainly listening to what everyone has to say and I am not averse to the idea of recommending some changes to the system if those changes would make the system unambiguously better, but I would need to be convinced that those changes are actually strictly better than the system that has already been established, and so far I have not been convinced by anything I have seen either on this list or on the LivingFR Yahoo! Group. I don't mean that to be dismissive of the ideas people have posted or insulting of their efforts; I have seen some good ideas, and I appreciate the time and thought that has gone into these proposals. (I should also be clear that even if I personally were to become convinced that a particular change was beneficial, all I could do would be to advocate that change to the other admins and most importantly to Chris Tulach, who ultimately has the final say.)

Thanks for listening Sean:

Two last specific points:
The fix is relatively minor(make specific level item slots that are then filled with found items that range from levels 5-30) and in most cases will act exactly like the current system. It isn't a major change of the system, it is just the plugging of a loophole.

Regardless of whether or not hoarding is actually a good idea or not, the fix means there is no possible significant advantage to hoarding or metagaming mods. To use a D&D analogy, even assuming that there's a 95% chance you're right Sean, why risk rolling a 1 when you can take 10? We can hope hoarding won't be an issue or we can know it won't. It is strictly better to know it won't.

Andy
Sean - like you I think that the risks are being exxagerated. However, I think that the proposed found item list based on *Item level* rather than *Character level* would indeed solve some of the perceived problems without drifting that much farther from the DMG guidelines than we already are. You still end up with 30 found items by 30th level, and they are more likely to match up with the levels of item that you'd find in a home-game (actually, they are more-or-less *required* to match up).

I really hope that you seriously look at that specific alternative. I think that it might be an acceptable alternative to the WotC brass.

Thanks,
Big Mike
What other objections or concerns have been raised that do not fall into any of the above three categories?

As for #3 - it's not that it will make sense for characters. It's that many people will think it makes sense and under-power their characters for several levels.

But the main objection I have is that it makes the assumption that people plan their characters in detail ahead of time and understand the majority of magic items available at a specific level.

Many people (myself included) do not have the time or inclination to plan my character ahead of time other than a quick glance at the recommended archetypes. I certainly don't have an encylopedic knowledge of magical items. This will only get worse as we have more source books.

So I very well may pick up a magic item that doesn't work well for my character. I will be forced to bypass items that would have been better suited for my character for several levels.

If you have people who don't understand how a magic item will fit in to their character concept, it is very stressful to give them a minute or two to pick out an irrevocable choice. It's not fun.

If I can swap a found magic item for another found magic item of the same level (or lower) I will have had time to think about whether or not the magic item I currently have selected makes sense. I'll still be a little stressed out at times, but at least I will have a second chance if I mess up.

As the current rules stand I probably won't be picking up anything shiny until I'm second or third level. Once again, not fun.

Allen.
The proposal of one item per item level dosn't fly with me. Because you could never find two +1 vanilla items (item level 1). You could never find two +1 weapons for a dual weilder... or a +1 sword and shield or a +1 weapon and armour.

I think I preffer the current way over 'one item per item level'. (Dont' get me wrong, the current way bugs me, but it's better than the supposed 'fix')
The proposal of one item per item level dosn't fly with me. Because you could never find two +1 vanilla items (item level 1). You could never find two +1 weapons for a dual weilder... or a +1 sword and shield or a +1 weapon and armour.

You don't have to put a level 5 item into a level 5 slot...you want to put a vanilla +2 sword into the level 6 slot and another plain +2 sword into the level 7 slot, that would be perfectly legal.

Also, because you typically should only find one magic item per level per D&D rules, it is unlikely that you should be finding 2 items of the exact same level anyway, in LFR or a home game - unless you're nearing retirement at 30th, of course.
But the main objection I have is that it makes the assumption that people plan their characters in detail ahead of time and understand the majority of magic items available at a specific level.

Many people (myself included) do not have the time or inclination to plan my character ahead of time other than a quick glance at the recommended archetypes. I certainly don't have an encyclopedic knowledge of magical items. This will only get worse as we have more source books.

You don't need an encyclopedic knowledge to have an idea about your character. Surely you have some sort of basic idea for your character? Even something as simple as "He's a Dwarven 2-W fighter" can give you some idea of what to take. All you ave to do is think the concept through a tiny bit more. maybe...

"He's a Dwarven 2-W fighter who reveres Moradin and harnesses the power of Thunder to smack his opponents around with hammers."

A one sentence concept. What does this mean in terms of magic item selection? Obviously your weapons will be hammers. You'll be looking for a Thundering weapon and maybe other items that allow you to push opponents around on a hit. In contrast you may decide you want him to be hard to push around (a good Dwarven trait) so you'll look for Dwarven Greaves or other items that reduce or negate forced movement against you. As a fighter, at it's most basic, you'll by default be looking for things that help your damage output. So Gauntlets of Ogre Strength, and later on in your career you'll probably be looking for Gauntlets of Destruction. You'll probably also be looking for items that help your AC or your Save ACs.

Not that hard to think up. Plannign what you want for your PC doesn't have to be done as a full spread sheet planning every step of character development down to how much gold you should have at what point to be able to by x item by such-and--such a level. Some people do that, many don't.

I came up with the above list of items without an encyclopedic knowledge of the magic items myself. My own Dwarven fighter concept started as: "A tough, grizzled SOB who won't go down easy because he has lots of opportunities to spend healing surges and tries to be as sticky as possible."

This means I'm looking to take as many powers that 1) have the healing keyword, 2) allow me to do burst attacks to mark as many opponents as possible. In terms of items I know i am looking for: Dwarven Armor because it allows you to heal, and a lifedrinker weapon because you get temp HP when you drop an opponent to 0 hp. I want the Dwarven Greaves for him, and I want Gauntlets of Ogre Power (eventually Gauntlets of Destruction). I know that come Paragon level he will be taking the Combat Veteran PP and so I took the Warlord Multiclass feat at first level (which gives me another healing power).

No need to have an elaborate plan. My concept dictated a small handful of items i know I am really looking for. Other items can be taken on an as needed basis. Especially since some of them are low level and can be bought if something else useful comes along I want to use my Found Slots for.

All this is to illustrate that having a basic concept in mind is enough to give you a good idea of what you want out of your items.

Maybe you like the feats associated with cold damage (Wintertouched, Lasting Frost). Well, obviously you'd want to take Frost weapons. It would be foolish to decide to take a Lightning weapon at mods end if you were planning on taking the cold feats. That's not a problem with the treasure system, that's a problem with the player.
Sorry WOTC, you lost me with Essentials. So where I used to buy every book that came out, now I will be very choosy about what I buy. Can we just get back to real 4e? Check out the 4e Conversion Wiki. 1. Wizards fight dirty. They hit their enemies in the NADs. -- Dragon9 2. A barbarian hits people with his axe. A warlord hits people with his barbarian. 3. Boo-freakin'-hoo, ya light-slingin' finger-wigglers. -- MrCelcius in response to the Cleric's Healer's Lore nerf
The proposal of one item per item level dosn't fly with me. Because you could never find two +1 vanilla items (item level 1). You could never find two +1 weapons for a dual weilder... or a +1 sword and shield or a +1 weapon and armour.

I think I preffer the current way over 'one item per item level'. (Dont' get me wrong, the current way bugs me, but it's better than the supposed 'fix')

I think you have confused found items, which will, typically, be "better" items than you could buy at that level (for a 1st level character, that would be items that require, normally, being 2nd to 5th level to purchase, if available, said found item) with open access items.

A 1st level character, with enough gold, could just purchase a full set of plain vanilla +1 items, as appropriate for the character's class. If you want a +1 weapon, it costs 360 gold. 2? 720 gold. Weapon and shield both +1? 720 gold. Remember that all the magic items listed in the back of the PHB are open, so no need to do anything besides buy them. No need to list them in the Access list (the 5 slots per tier), or use up a found item slot for them, either.

And, when you reach 6th level, you could just upgrade them to +2 for 1,440 gold apiece. And so on, as your character goes up in level.

You might want to look at the writing guidelines, available on the RPGA website, as they include some interesting reading, like on how to create treasure bundles for an adventure...
Since it has been clarified that items with enhancement bonuses can be upgraded, doesn't that kinda nullify this whole thread? The only thing left is the argument to swap out found items. I still do not see what the big fuss is about. All this smacks back to the arms race of LG. "I must get the biggest baddest items that I can." If your whole character concept will be ruined if you cannot find item X, then I think your character is doomed. It has been said that 4e is supposed to be more rounded. The one-trick pony characters of 3.5 have gone the way of the dodo. The system that is being proposed here sounds a lot more complicated than the one in the campaign guide. To me, that adds more confusion and more paper work.
It doesn't nullify it in some people's minds. The core assumption about wanting to swap items for higher level items is that lower level items have no value to a higher level character, which in 4e is totally false. I have made several posts listing many items level 12 or below that are just as useful at 30 as they are when you are around their level (mostly on the LivingFR Yahoo! group). i won't post them again because it's a lot of typing and frankly, I'm sick of typing it over and over because people seem to ignore it.

You can lead a horse to water, but you can't make it drink...
Sorry WOTC, you lost me with Essentials. So where I used to buy every book that came out, now I will be very choosy about what I buy. Can we just get back to real 4e? Check out the 4e Conversion Wiki. 1. Wizards fight dirty. They hit their enemies in the NADs. -- Dragon9 2. A barbarian hits people with his axe. A warlord hits people with his barbarian. 3. Boo-freakin'-hoo, ya light-slingin' finger-wigglers. -- MrCelcius in response to the Cleric's Healer's Lore nerf
Since it has been clarified that items with enhancement bonuses can be upgraded, doesn't that kinda nullify this whole thread?

Upgrading items is pretty much the equivalent of paying for them. You get a 20% discount on the new item, but you'll likely burn most of your gold to do so. The game is specifically designed to make paying for items usually suboptimal(except when there's no other method of finding it)

The only thing left is the argument to swap out found items. I still do not see what the big fuss is about. All this smacks back to the arms race of LG. "I must get the biggest baddest items that I can."

If you look a little more closely, the change means it is much, much more difficult to get into an arms race.
It doesn't nullify it in some people's minds. The core assumption about wanting to swap items for higher level items is that lower level items have no value to a higher level character, which in 4e is totally false..

Neither of the systems mentioned here allow you to swap lower level items for higher level items. They allow you to swap lower level items for other lower level items. Which has some inherent risk to it.
Maybe you like the feats associated with cold damage (Wintertouched, Lasting Frost). Well, obviously you'd want to take Frost weapons. It would be foolish to decide to take a Lightning weapon at mods end if you were planning on taking the cold feats. That's not a problem with the treasure system, that's a problem with the player.

But that's exactly my point - you understand how powers stack, what feats you're going to take, what basic types of item powers you need. If I take a frost weapon, I may be thinking that I can use "Burning Blizzard" to increase my damage. But after selecting the frost weapon I realize I don't meet the prerequisites for the feat. Maybe I should have waited for a thundering weapon because I do qualify for "Raging Storm".

It won't be the end of the world or cripple my character if I select the wrong item. But it certainly isn't newbie friendly. I read your post and I see someone who has a pretty thorough understanding of how things work and what they need. So the current rule doesn't cause you much pain.

I'm not supporting a radical redesign of the way item selection works. It's a minor tweak that addresses some flaws that someone with a thorough understanding of the rules may not see.

Allen.
Haha! You give me too much credit. I would never say I have a thorough understanding of the rules. :P
Sorry WOTC, you lost me with Essentials. So where I used to buy every book that came out, now I will be very choosy about what I buy. Can we just get back to real 4e? Check out the 4e Conversion Wiki. 1. Wizards fight dirty. They hit their enemies in the NADs. -- Dragon9 2. A barbarian hits people with his axe. A warlord hits people with his barbarian. 3. Boo-freakin'-hoo, ya light-slingin' finger-wigglers. -- MrCelcius in response to the Cleric's Healer's Lore nerf
Greetings...

Does that about sum up the objections? What other objections or concerns have been raised that do not fall into any of the above three categories?

would need to be convinced that those changes are actually strictly better than the system that has already been established,

Ok two things here:

1. Another category: I would add to your 3 that the current system over the proposed tweak to it would allow a great disparage in the power level of magic items amongst players both over time and in the immediate timeframe. This would make module writing tougher as has been seen in 3rd ed with LG. Having 3 15th level items is MUCH stronger than having a 5th, 10th and 15th level item.. isn't it? Likewise someone with 1 item rather than 3 at low levels is going to be less powerful than would otherwise be assumed, right?

2. Towards your statement about needing to be convinced, might I ask a question?

What do you see in the current system as *better* than the proposed tweak to it?

You might not see the merits (or value as highly) the merits in the proposed change, but do you see *any* flaws?

Again, even if you are right and having 3 15th level items isn't much different than having a 5th, 10th and 15th level item, this isn't the current perception. And the perception of 'better choice' will great affect many gamers, and cause a good number of needless headaches on all sides of the fence.

-James
Has anyone actually put claimed any advantage to the current system? ('inertia' aside)
What do you look for as an advantage? As Sean said, the only thing he could do if he was solidly convinced would be to advocate for a change, but that's it. The LFR rules for handling magic item distribution was given to them by WotC. The admins have said as much. So the chances of this changing due to player's perceived problems is slim to none.

The current rules for ditributing magic items was made to try to mirror how it would work in a home game if you used the treasure guidelines int he DMG. How it looks to work like that was argued over incessantly in the "No Selling" thread between myself and delroland, so I won't rehash it here.

So far reports I have heard from folks that have hosted a whole bunch of slot-zeros have said there's been no problems at the tables with the current system. Granted thats a small sampling out what the deluge of play opportunities to come, but so far it doesn't seem to be generating any problems.

Regardless, no matter how much time and energy is spent arguing about this it isn't going to change, especially when it's only a vocal handful of players that are crying foul over it. The only way WotC would look into changing it is if real world play experience shows that it doesn't work.

So please, for all that is Holy, can we give these debates a rest? Everything that can be said about this subject has and we're all starting to repeat ourselves. We know it isn't going to be changed. While I'm all for spirited debate, the debate has reached it's typical internet stalemate conclusion.
Sorry WOTC, you lost me with Essentials. So where I used to buy every book that came out, now I will be very choosy about what I buy. Can we just get back to real 4e? Check out the 4e Conversion Wiki. 1. Wizards fight dirty. They hit their enemies in the NADs. -- Dragon9 2. A barbarian hits people with his axe. A warlord hits people with his barbarian. 3. Boo-freakin'-hoo, ya light-slingin' finger-wigglers. -- MrCelcius in response to the Cleric's Healer's Lore nerf
Has anyone actually put claimed any advantage to the current system? ('inertia' aside)

It attempts to match DMG wealth. It may not have been clear that my system matches DMG wealth much more closely because I also only would allow one item per character level.

Andy
So please, for all that is Holy, can we give these debates a rest? Everything that can be said about this subject has and we're all starting to repeat ourselves. We know it isn't going to be changed. While I'm all for spirited debate, the debate has reached it's typical internet stalemate conclusion.

If you make your argument in a calm manner and in a way that shows how things are better, they(WotC) have made changes before.

I've gotten several significant changes made to both the FAQ and the LGCS in that manner.
Simplicity? Though I admit that is subjective.
Personally I think we should - like many rules - just try and see how the current rules work out before we change them.

Gomez
Greetings...

So what I seem to be hearing is that there are basically three objections to the current system for "found" items:

1 - The system can be seen as unnecessarily punitive, particularly at the lowest levels, because found item choices are irrevocable.
(snip)
2 - The system can be seen as encouraging metagaming
(snip)
3 - The system can be seen as encouraging players not to use their found item choices until higher levels, so that they will be able to fill more of their total slots with higher-level items.
(snip)

Yes, this is exactly is right as far as I can tell. It dosn't matter weather or not you precieve #3 to have merit, if people are going to think that it's better for them to do so, they probably will. As a friend of mine likes to quote "If a phenomenon is real in its perception, it will be real in its concequenses."

I can't think of anything else to add, these three points are about as concise as it gets.
Simplicity? Though I admit that is subjective.
Personally I think we should - like many rules - just try and see how the current rules work out before we change them.

Gomez

You have a sheet that looks something like this:
Character Level.......Max Item Level of Slot.........Item
1.......................... 5 ......................... +1 Flaming Weapon
2 ......................... 6 ......................... +2 Armor
3......................... 7 ......................... ______________
4......................... 8 ......................... ______________
5 ......................... 9 ......................... ______________
6 ......................... 10 ......................... ______________
(etc...)
25 ......................... 29 ......................... ______________
26 ......................... 30 ......................... ______________
27 ......................... 30 ......................... ______________
28 ......................... 30 ......................... ______________
29 ......................... 30 ......................... ______________
30 ......................... 30 ......................... ______________

----

No matter what you do, you can't stick a +2 armor into the slot you got at 1st level. You can stick another +1 Flaming Weapon into the slot you get 2nd level slot. You find two +1 Flaming Weapons at 1st level, you only have one slot, so you can't take two of them. If you wait until 5th level to fill the 1st level slot, you can still only fill it with a 5th level item.

99% of the time, this acts exactly like the current system. You find a 6th level item at 1st, you can't take it. You find two 5th level items, you can only take one. But if you wait until 5th level in the current system, you now have the benefit of being able to pick a 9th level item. That's the only thing that changes - the inability to do that.

Make the sheet clear and use some abbreviations and it should be simpler to use than the current system - as in DM or other players can take one look at the sheet and realize that everything is legitimate(or quickly fix mistakes)
The fact that it acts like the current system except for a few rare instances but now you need a whole chart with columns and TLAs does not make it more simple. A single sentence is all that is required to explain the current system. You need a paragraph and charts. Is it perfect? No. But then again in a living campaign nothing will be perfect. There is not a way to mimic the DMG designed for a home campaign and make it work in the living campaign. I think the current system will work for 99% of the people out there. The one change that I think would take that to 99.9% would be if people were allowed to swap items. As long as they kept the same level or lower than the item they currently had, I do not see this as a breaking the system change.
If you make your argument in a calm manner and in a way that shows how things are better, they(WotC) have made changes before.

I've gotten several significant changes made to both the FAQ and the LGCS in that manner.

Well yeah, but in the case of the LGCS any changes made were to rules already in place where people were able to point out with play examples of how it wasn't working the way they intended it to. We don't have that yet with the current LFR system. Plus, AFAIK, WotC was more hands off with the LG campaign. The admins had much more freedom to do with the campaign as they felt necessary (discussed ad naseum with the other admins of course) with minimal campaign rules handed to them by WotC. (I could be wrong on that though, but that's the impression I got from the admins I knew on both Triad, meta-regional and campaign wide levels)

LFR is different. WotC is taking a bigger interest in the campaign (more evidence they hate Greyhawk? lol, the conspiracy theories begin!) and handign the admin rules they need to work within for the campaign. The treasure distribution rules are one of those rules handed down from on high.
Sorry WOTC, you lost me with Essentials. So where I used to buy every book that came out, now I will be very choosy about what I buy. Can we just get back to real 4e? Check out the 4e Conversion Wiki. 1. Wizards fight dirty. They hit their enemies in the NADs. -- Dragon9 2. A barbarian hits people with his axe. A warlord hits people with his barbarian. 3. Boo-freakin'-hoo, ya light-slingin' finger-wigglers. -- MrCelcius in response to the Cleric's Healer's Lore nerf
Well yeah, but in the case of the LGCS any changes made were to rules already in place where people were able to point out with play examples of how it wasn't working the way they intended it to.

Actually, that's not correct. I was the one who pointed out that you shouldn't be allowed to retrain item feats when they introduced retraining rules because it could be exploited(take CWI at 9th, craft a lot, then retrain into a different feat at 10th as an example)

The Circle made a change to the LGCS as a result. There was no example of it in play.

And yes, my thing looks a little more complex, but it really isn't - the chart is actually a simplified version of the current AR system - instead of having it on 30 different sheets of paper, it could be on one sheet of paper. At least for the tracking of magic items.
The last couple of LGCS draft reviews saw a lot of changes made on the basis of player/GM feedback on the draft. Britt did a great job of responding to feedback and taking it up.

There has been no draft review for LFR and I think that's a mistake.


In this case I think the rule they came up with is pretty good.. but going that extra step would make it considerably better.
I'm coming back to this to add -in light of some comments post-Gencon- that it would probably be an improvement to let people 'find' an item that is too high a level for them and move the restriction to *using* that item until they level up enough [lending that itme to a higher level party member could also be restricted].

There is a potential drawback to this idea in terms of possible pressure for authors to put the highest possible level items in all the time and for tables to 'play up'. I reckon the writers/reviewers are capable of resisting any such pressure just fine though and ime people don't generally play up unless everyone is happy ..though of course there's no 1/2xp 1/2 ghp factor now.


The power-gamer's ultimate consideration is probably the gp:xp ratio. I haven't looked at which
way that pushes you at the moment but it could be used constructively to counter such pressure if people really care.
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