Bundle redundancy

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I'm really starting to wonder who (if anyone) is in charge of making treasure bundles for the LFR adventures.

I can think of several items that are in demand by players and haven't appeared yet, and anyway given the size of the PHB and the AV it would hardly seem possible that the "treasurer" has run out of items.

And yet, when I throw all the treasure in LFR adventures in a database, I notice that the following items each show up in four or more different modules!

  • Bag of holding
  • Boots of spider climbing
  • Gauntlets of ogre power
  • Lifedrinker weapon
  • Shield of defiance
  • Staff of storms
  • Vicious weapon

I may have missed one or two, and there's an equally long list of items that appear three times. And that's not counting "vanilla" items like cloaks of resistance, pact blades, or magic [foo] +[bar].

Now except for the vicious weapon, none of these extremely common items appear to be particularly worth taking for a Found Item Slot. Heck, a bag of holding by RAW barely does anything. So what is going on here? Is there some blacklist of equipment that writers aren't allowed to put in adventures? Are they being extremely cautious with all the kind of items they give out? Or what?
The 12 LFR regional Writing Directors and the 3 LFR Global Administrators choose the treasure bundles independently for the adventures for which they are responsible. We cannot know which adventures any given PC will play or in what order so doing a high degree of coordination with such assumptions is worthless. Also, please note that opinions vary as to the worth of any particular magic item. I have seen several players select bags of holding in adventure I DMed, so they apparently did not agree with your judgment. We do not have a black list of items.

So what items do you feel are "in demand" by players? This is the feedback mechanism that replaces a player talking to his home DM -- tell us what you would like to see put in a treasure bundle and there is a fair chance that at least one of us just might include one.

Keith
Keith Hoffman LFR Writing Director for Waterdeep
We cannot know which adventures any given PC will play or in what order so doing a high degree of coordination with such assumptions is worthless.

So what items do you feel are "in demand" by players?

Keith

With the number of magic items available, and the easy vision that says that WOTC will produce more at a higher rate than bundles can account for..

I would suggest that some level of coordination to reduce duplication would be a plus.

Whatever items are in demand/desired or what have you the more varied a selection being out there only helps to satisfy it.

I would also suggest that one option for a bundle be 'Any item from a valid source of your character level or lower'.

Save specific bundles for options that players cannot buy, but let them always get an item of their level. Having a player take a level+4 item just so that they can sell it for a level-1 item of their choice seems.. well disappointing to me.

-James
i always thought the best mods bundles were one that covered one of each type.. example...

A- Melee weapon
b- Ranged weapon
c- armor
d- Impliment
e- wild-card item
f- ritual or alchemical
You're never going to be able to please everyone with specified bundles.

And asking people on a message board to toss out suggestions for specific items is catering to a pretty small and narrowly focused group.

I like the idea of opening things up to 'any item of your PC's level or less'. Or if you want to be generous, 'any item of your PC's level + X or less' where X = 1 or 2 or 3 or whatever.
A previous poster said it best...

Ideal bundle options could be more frequently something like this:

"Any weapon or implement of level X or less from the PHB or AV."

The best part is that only one bundle option would need to be like this in a given adventure, and only a handful of adventures would need to have an option like this to give players the variety they're looking for.
Dave Kay LFR Writing Director Retiree dkay807 [at] yahoo [dot] com
So what is going on here? Is there some blacklist of equipment that writers aren't allowed to put in adventures? Are they being extremely cautious with all the kind of items they give out? Or what?

I'd expect exactly the opposite: Authors want people to pick their items, so they're putting in their modules the items they think players wants. Since there is no coordination, you're seeing the result of multiple authors independently making the same decision as to what players want.

While I think campaign staff made the right call in being cautious in treasure distribution to start, I think it's pretty clear by now that the system needs an overhaul.

The basic problem is that the core system assumes a DM taking an active role in determining the magic items you find.
DMG, p. 125
The trickiest part of awarding treasure is determining what magic items to give out. Tailor these items to your party of characters. Remember that these are supposed to be items that excite the characters, items they want to use rather than sell or disenchant. If none of the characters in your 6th-level party uses a longbow, don’t put a 10th-level longbow in your dungeon as treasure.

A great way to make sure you give players magic items they’ll be excited about is to ask them for wish lists. At the start of each level, have each player write down a list of three to five items that they are intrigued by that are no more than four levels above their own level. You can choose treasure from those lists (making sure to place an item from a different character’s list each time), crossing the items off as the characters find them.
4e got rid of the idea of magic items being randomly generated as treasure. Ironically, that's effectively what we have in LFR.

The primary impact of this is on implement-users, who have far fewer options than core assumes they should. I expect that this will come to a head in March, when the PHB2 classes introduce new implements that obviously aren't found in current modules, and someone realizes that a new player going through the entire heroic tier without seeing a single possible choice for their primary magic item isn't a good idea.

At this point, campaign staff has three options:

- The current system. If you're a weapon user who isn't particular about your weapon property, you're golden. If you're an implement user or have an idiosyncratic build, get used to buying items and lagging behind others.

- The laundry list. Instead of just a "+1 staff of storms", the bundle choice might include an option for every implement under the sun. (That might seem excessive, until you realize that most modules include an option for every weapon under the sun; it's just easier to be expansive about weapon choices.)

- Open access. Instead of specifying the items, a module might allow you to find, say, "a divine-class implement no higher than 7th level, light armor no higher than 8th level and a spear no higher than 7th level".

Why do we limit item choices for found items in the status quo? Well, there are a few reasons.

Limiting the items coming out of a module lets the campaign restrict items the campaign thinks are problematic. Except that the campaign doesn't do that: PCs can buy whatever they want, and some of the items I would have been leery of letting in the campaign at all (e.g., pre-errata veteran's armor) are put out as found items with abandon.

Limiting the items coming out of a module helps with immersion, tying the specific items found to items used and discovered during the adventure. Except that we already have a level of abstraction in item selection that takes away such immersion: there's no real difference in immersiveness between having the PCs take "+2 magic (any armor)" or "any divine class implement of 6th level or below".

I hope that campaign staff sees the need for a basic overhaul of the treasure system, because it will only get worse as class options increase.

-- Brian Gibbons.
- The current system. If you're a weapon user who isn't particular about your weapon property, you're golden. If you're an implement user or have an idiosyncratic build, get used to buying items and lagging behind others.

Interestingly you assume that weapon properties wouldn't matter to a player of a martial character but implement properties do matter to players of arcane or divine characters. Hmmmm...

- The laundry list. Instead of just a "+1 staff of storms", the bundle choice might include an option for every implement under the sun. (That might seem excessive, until you realize that most modules include an option for every weapon under the sun; it's just easier to be expansive about weapon choices.)

I'd like to see the mods you've played, because I have a paladin that would like to choose from every weapon under the sun. But he's never had that chance.

- Open access. Instead of specifying the items, a module might allow you to find, say, "a divine-class implement no higher than 7th level, light armor no higher than 8th level and a spear no higher than 7th level".

I'm pretty sure that that is what gold is for. It ain't perfect but there you go.

So far, no one has (IMO) suggested a better system than the one that is in place. At least not one that isn't just "take whatever you want whenever you want it".

These are found magic items, they should make sense where/when/if they are found. *shrug*
I generally try to adapt items to teh adventuer where they are found, so that they make sense. This works better in some than in others.
I personally feel finding a specific item, if it is of use, is more satisfying than finding 'stuff'.
Still, I cans ee how, in some cases, finding 'stuff' is what you want. Finding an 'implement +2' could be useful in some cases (and if it is given as a reward, woudl actually be in place).
Unfortunately, implements do not have powers they can share, sho you cannot give out an ímplment of storms +2', since that does only make sense for staves.
I am not much a fan of 'any item of your level', unless you can incorporate a cause in the adventure for it. For instance, some organisations could conceivably 'arrange' for any item to be found and awarded for good services.
I don't know what HQ thinbks of such items (given out in selective cases), but I will ask.
I am not much a fan of 'any item of your level', unless you can incorporate a cause in the adventure for it.

They already exist for some modules. If its a problem then it should be pulled, if it's not it would help ameliorate some issues. I haven't seen the gold plans for paragon mods, but unless they are 25 times that of heroic buying items will only be a heroic notion (and a low level one at that).

And really is it that much different than going from vicious weapon? When 3 players take it and for them of those '3' one is a dagger, one is a great spear, and one is a bow.. and where it's found (singular) in the module it doesn't say anything beyond it's vicious?

It's already abstract.

If the bad guys were actually using it then it would be one thing, but in 4e NPCs don't really use items... so that's kinda gone.

If you're going to ask about items, ask what they should accomplish. I, personally, figure that with some coordination you could have named bundles serve for PC level+X while letting them always take a bundle choice for an item of PC level. It keeps the named bundles special as you get them sooner, but doesn't hose someone because in a whole tier of mods there's only one holy symbol (or the like).

-James
Interestingly you assume that weapon properties wouldn't matter to a player of a martial character but implement properties do matter to players of arcane or divine characters. Hmmmm...

No, he's pointing out the arcane/divine characters problem to merely get any kind of implement at all.

Add a special weapon to a bundle and most of the time 100% of the weapon-users have the option to take it or not. Add a an implement and 90% of the time 75% of the implement-users can't use it (and this will get worse once PHB2 introduces a couple of new implement types).

For the axe-wielder, sword-wielder, polearm-wielder it's just the decision whether he wants the vicious weapon or not. For the wand-user, staff-user, orb-user the holy symbol avaible is just useless.
I'd like a combination of the above approaches espoused by Brian and Gomez. There are some scenarios where the background and events of the scenario dictate certain items, others less so. What I do think might be useful, if they haven't done so before, is if the bods in charge of choosing the items sat down with characters from each class and figured out what the "must-have" items each class must have.

I know for a fact that people do look up spoiler databases and do tailor their play for items. My own cleric for example, I made sure to play BALD1-1 and WATE1-1 for the Holy Symbol and the Exalted Armour rewards from those. To the point of creating another character to play other games as I didn't want to level her up to the point where she couldn't do those scenarios. And I know that if there are any scenarios in the future with similar clerical healing items in them, those will be the ones I'll be wanting to play first. Yes, it does stink of an MMO where you run certain instances repeatedly for certain items, and I would have preferred *not* to do have to do that, but I felt I had no choice on the matter whatsoever. The difference in effectiveness between a cleric equipped with "best-in-slot" healing items and a cleric equipped with random items is enough in 4e that it does demand character optimisation.

A recent related anecdote on this subject: I recently ran TYMA1-1, where you find a +1 weapon part of the way through the scenario. Until the Ranger decided to take the weapon we made a joke of the +1 weapon being rather hard to describe and decidedly amorphous. When she took the weapon it mysteriously and magically changed to a +1 longbow.
The 12 LFR regional Writing Directors and the 3 LFR Global Administrators choose the treasure bundles independently for the adventures for which they are responsible. We cannot know which adventures any given PC will play or in what order so doing a high degree of coordination with such assumptions is worthless. Also, please note that opinions vary as to the worth of any particular magic item.

I understand that everybody has different opinions about which items are good. My point is that there should be more variation, and this can easily be done with a bit of coordination. As there's literally hundreds of items available, there really is no need to repeat any item three times before every other item option (of that level) is used at least once.


Aside from that, as has been pointed out above, there is a severe lack of choice for implement users. After ten adventures, any weapon user will have a choice of about nine weapons he can use, whereas any implement user will have a choice of perhaps one implement he can use (given that warlocks can't use orbs, staff wizards don't want to use wands, clerics can't use orbs or wands, etc).
There are several adventures that offer a generic Magic Implement, so I'm struggling to understand the major concern. In any case, the issue is hardly cause for questioning the competency of the campaign staff.

Joe
Joe Fitzgerald | joerpga[at]yahoo[dot]com[dot]au LFR Global Administrator
There are several adventures that offer a generic Magic Implement, so I'm struggling to understand the major concern. In any case, the issue is hardly cause for questioning the competency of the campaign staff.

Joe

I've seen one, although I'll take your word for it that there are more. However, in each case the option is 'a +x magic implement' since powers are limited to specific implement types (i.e. wand of magic missile can only be a wand, not a staff). This means that any implements that aren't level 1/6/11 etc. must be a specific implement type, and thus useless to probably 90% of characters (and more when the new implements come out in the PHBII).

It is a problem if you need a specific implement type. For example, while wizards can in theory choose from three, they only have mastery of one type and would therefore prefer it. Or consider multiclassing: my warlock is m/c'd into wizard, therefore would really like a wand, so he can channel his warlock and wizard powers through the same implement. But in 13 mods how many magic wands have I seen? One generic +2. That's it.
WotC created the campaign rules. The LFR staff and WotC are closely monitoring distribution, and we (the LFR campaign staff) are making suggestions to WotC on changes we would like to see. We have already suggested and seen implemented (excuse the pun) the addition of the generic "take any item of your level or lower as a bundle" bundle option in certain situations. We will continue to look at ways to make sure the treasure distribution system for LFR matches the Core rules as closely as possible while still meeting the needs of the campaign as a whole.

Thanks,

Shawn
LFR Global Admin
Perhaps a compromise between "(Vanilla) Implement +2" and "Choose any item from " would be to grant access to specific type(s) of a specific level (or less).

Example: Choose an Implement of level 8 or lower from any non-Dragon source.
Example: Choose a shield of level 7 or lower from the PHBII
Example: Choose a wonderous item of level 9 or lower from AV
Example: Choose a ranged weapon of your level +2 (or lower) from any player resource.

This still limits modules to having particular types of treasure as seen fit by the author/admin. However, it allows for flexibility similar to what we're seeing in "Flaming Weapon +x".

Mods don't specify "Flaming Longsword" because that would limit people who don't use longswords. This approach would allow my warlock access to something other than a "vanilla" Rod, while still letting a wizard or cleric take a worthwhile implement.

I know the rules still have to come from WotC, and maybe you've already come up with an idea similar to this, but if not, tell them to mail the check to my work address. ;)
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Interestingly you assume that weapon properties wouldn't matter to a player of a martial character but implement properties do matter to players of arcane or divine characters. Hmmmm...

You're missing the point. It's not the property, it's the fact that the particular implement the class uses isn't in the module at all.
I'd like to see the mods you've played, because I have a paladin that would like to choose from every weapon under the sun. But he's never had that chance.

Sure you have. We're talking weapons, not particular weapon properties.

If you use a halberd, odds are there will be a halberd in the next few modules you play, because saying "+X [Property] [any weapon]" is equivalent to listing a large number of weapons. If a new book comes out, and you decide you're now using a new weapon that has never been part of the campaign before, found treasure in old modules retroactively includes that weapon.

If you use an orb, odds are that there will not be an orb in the next few modules you play (they show up about 1 in every 5 modules) and your selection will obviously be more limited. If a new book comes out, and you decide to roll up a member of a class that uses a new implement, only two out of 42 modules (the ones with "+2 any implement") will have an implement for you.
So far, no one has (IMO) suggested a better system than the one that is in place. At least not one that isn't just "take whatever you want whenever you want it".

These are found magic items, they should make sense where/when/if they are found. *shrug*

The core system is pretty close to "take whatever you want". The core rules assume that your DM actively tailors the items you find, to give the players more or less what they want. The only real issue is how soon they get what they want and how they get it.
We will continue to look at ways to make sure the treasure distribution system for LFR matches the Core rules as closely as possible while still meeting the needs of the campaign as a whole.

If you want to match the core rules, then modules should give guidelines and let the DM at the table select the treasure (e.g., "Encounter C-1 contains an implement lying on the altar. Pick any arcane-class implement of no more than 7th level for the PCs to find.") This is essentially equivalent to giving the players free reign, since most DMs will look to see what the players want (as the DMG states they should, p. 125) but is one level removed from free and open access, so it might be more palatable to WOTC.

The current system is essentially equivalent to generating treasure items randomly based on what the average adventurer wants (as opposed to the particular party), which is decidedly *not* what the core rules assume.

Another possibility is to have the PCs create a wishlist, as the DMG says they should (p. 125 again).

This was actually what I thought LFR was going for with their "magic item access list" in the first few iterations of the CCG, because the stated reason didn't make any sense. My guess had been that LFR would have PCs write up a list of items they wanted in the future, and module treasure could key off that list (e.g., "You may pick one armor of no more than 8th level from your wishlist.") That would not be the worst possible method for treasure distribution, and again, it more accurately reflects the core rules than the current system.

-- Brian Gibbons.
If you want to match the core rules (snip)

As I said, we are striving for a system that matches the Core rules as closely as possible while still meeting the needs of the campaign as a whole. There are several very good suggestions that have come from the players who I have talked to in person, and we will continue to discuss changes with WotC.

Shawn
LFR Global Admin
Arguing the other side of the matter (because someone has to), there is an aesthetic value to forcing variety in the item picks. I don't want to see a game in which (almost) every melee weapon is Vicious, every crossbow is Swiftshot, and every orb is Inevitable Continuance.

The designers obviously made some questionable choices when pricing item properties at 1, 2, or 4 levels above the vanilla +x versions. But, at least when players are finding items rather than paying gold or choosing freely, some of the overvalued items will get into the game.
I notice that the following items each show up in four or more different modules!

  • Lifedrinker weapon


Now except for the vicious weapon, none of these extremely common items appear to be particularly worth taking for a Found Item Slot.

Ooh... seriously?! I have been looking for one of these. I'll have to find out where it appears. I want that weapon for my fighter.

Vicious weapon = meh. It's not a must have. I have many melee based characters built around certain ideas where certain weapons work better with them because of their properties and powers than just a Vicious weapon.

Don't get me wrong... a Vicious weapon can be nice at times with the right build and the right role (it's better for a striker than a defender, although defenders can certainly get use out of it), but without Righteous Rage of Tempus or mad l33t dice rolling skillz, it's unreliable since it only works on a crit.

When I see people talking of an item as the end-all-be-all (vicious weapons, Veteran's Armor, etc.) I see that they're still stuck in old edition power gaming mode and haven't looked at all the tactical options available to them. I'm not sayign that the power game isn't a alid tactical option, it's just not the only one. I have seen lots of people be very effective without VA or vicious weapons and I have seen many with them be ineffective.
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
There are several adventures that offer a generic Magic Implement, so I'm struggling to understand the major concern.

If by "several" you mean "two", then yes.

But you're completely missing the point. Yes, implement users can get a "vanilla implement +X", but they can't use 80% of the other implements because e.g. neither a cleric nor a 'lock can use a Staff of Storms. Whereas any weapon user can use every weapon he comes across, regardless of what it is, because a Flaming Weapon can automatically become a dagger, sword, axe, and so forth.

Vicious weapon = meh. It's not a must have.

And nobody is saying that it is, at least not in this thread. Certainly the LFR shouldn't put the favorite weapon from the CharOp threads into the plurality of modules. But, although this may be coincidental, that there appears to be an inverse correlation between how useful an item is and how often it appears in LFR modules.

For instance, while I'm sure a bag of holding is certainly flavorful, it technically doesn't do anything - it lets you draw an item as a minor action, but drawing items from anywhere else is already a minor action. Also, it increases your carrying capacity, which according to PHB page 222 isn't relevant anyway. So for spending a Found Item Slot on, it's about as useful as a tent, or fancy clothing, from the PHB list.
We have already suggested and seen implemented (excuse the pun) the addition of the generic "take any item of your level or lower as a bundle" bundle option in certain situations.

That would seem to be a very good solution. Thanks.
Arguing the other side of the matter (because someone has to), there is an aesthetic value to forcing variety in the item picks. I don't want to see a game in which (almost) every melee weapon is Vicious, every crossbow is Swiftshot, and every orb is Inevitable Continuance.

Are you sure you're on the other side of the matter?

Out of the 42 modules of which I'm aware of their treasure, there are 8 modules in which you can get one of 10 orbs (some modules double-up). Of these 10 orbs, 3 are magic orbs, 2 are orbs of inevitable continuance and 2 are orbs of sanguinary repercussions. (Looking just at modules that level 1-4 PCs could play, there's a grand total of four orbs, two of which are magic orbs).

The PH and AV have, between them, 34 different types of orbs. I find it difficult to argue that any of the proposed solutions will cause less variety.

(And, it is of course obvious that there exist only two modules out of the first 42, one of which is already retired, in which you can find one of the new implements for a PHB2 class.)

If there are "must have" items that every PC should be using, then that's a problem with those individual items, and should be solved there, not as part of the treasure system.

Personally, I tend to think that most such items aren't as big a deal as they're made out to be, with the exception of particular items which are in need of errata or clarification (such as the original version of veteran's armor, bloodclaw weapon, reparation apparatus). Inasmuch as the campaign has (or had) no problem giving away 2 of the 3 items that spring to mind for this issue, restricting players from using items WOTC made an error on is clearly not one of the goals of the treasure system.

-- Brian Gibbons.
A completely different way to solve the lack of items problem (and I'm using problem in the mathematical sense; not being judgmental) would be to drastically increase the amount of gold being given out, while also modifying the CCG to allow PCs to purchase items above their level. (Say, up to PC level + 4.)

This wouldn't require any changes to the found item bundles that are being put into adventures -- but it would allow much greater freedom of choice for the PCs who choose to take gold instead (and then spend it buying a different magic item than what was available in the adventure).
Regardless of how it is determined what is available for us to choose, I wish that once we make a choice and its reported it would show up in our characters history just like the reported gold does to help us track our characters and thier slots better. Hmm guess thats a different topic though. Yep redundancy is bad. Yep redundancy is bad.
A completely different way to solve the lack of items problem (and I'm using problem in the mathematical sense; not being judgmental) would be to drastically increase the amount of gold being given out, while also modifying the CCG to allow PCs to purchase items above their level. (Say, up to PC level + 4.)

This wouldn't require any changes to the found item bundles that are being put into adventures -- but it would allow much greater freedom of choice for the PCs who choose to take gold instead (and then spend it buying a different magic item than what was available in the adventure).

I think, rather than doing that, allow the option of taking a large amount of gold, which fills up a found item slot.
One of the things I'd like to see is the ability to 'find' an item which therefore upgrades a current found item to +X. I think that would greatly expand the number of choices without necessarily having to release every item into the mix.

As an example, you find Veteran's Armor +1 and you decide you really like it. As part of an adventure in the 7-10, you find a bundle which will upgrade a current found item up to level 12. So you upgrade it to +3.

I think that would also help make a much wider variety of weapon/armor/cloaks(etc...) seen at any given level.
allow the option of taking a large amount of gold, which fills up a found item slot.

That's a very good idea.
Looking just at modules that level 1-4 PCs could play, there's a grand total of four orbs, two of which are magic orbs

A part of the problem has nothing to do with the RPGA, but with how implements are being designed.

Weapons are easy to hand out in modules because they have the magic enchantment separated from the item's physical form. So it's easy to say, "Lightning Weapon +1" as a reward and have a lot of martial folks be happy, as they get to customize it to their preferred weapon.

Implements fill the same role as weapons for casters, more or less, but are designed so each one is a unique item to itself. There's only a Staff of Storms, no Orb of Storms or Holy Symbol of Storms. The only enchantment that can be applied to multiple types of implements is the generic "magic" bonus.

So inevitably you will see a good chunk of "+X Magic implement" given out and only a fraction of the available 'other' types of implements.

Design-wise, it would have been better to have the enchantments on implements separate from the physical form, like weapons and armor work.


-karma
LFR Characters: Lady Tiana Elinden Kobori Silverwane - Drow Control Wizard Kro'tak Warscream - Orc Bard Fulcrum of Gond - Warforged Laser Cleric
It is a bit sad, that you can't buy the 'fun' items any more because you are restricted to keeping your PC operating on the power curve.

Hedge Wizard Gloves, The attached light on Warforged, Fastidiousness Ritual (actually we cast that a lot) whilst all cool items - unfortunately are not viable in any non standard build.

Basically LFR bundles force you to use weapons to have decent items appropriate for your level, and more than that, they create a disparity between some of the more interesting builds and the stock standard ones.

Wasn't that what they were trying to avoid after all the Dramas with the LGCS?
We have already suggested and seen implemented (excuse the pun) the addition of the generic "take any item of your level or lower as a bundle" bundle option in certain situations.

The biggest flaw with this solution is "your level or lower". IIRC, the core rules suggest bundles of level +1 to level +4. So, anything of your level or lower is going to have a lower plus than you are "supposed" to have.
...and here I was thinking everyone was complaining that LFR was too easy.

Now you have to min/max your magic items to stay at the power curve?
Joe Fitzgerald | joerpga[at]yahoo[dot]com[dot]au LFR Global Administrator
One of the things I'd like to see is the ability to 'find' an item which therefore upgrades a current found item to +X.

Wouldn't that cause more players to stick with whatever weapon/armor/implement they're currently using, and thus reduce variation in play?

It is a bit sad, that you can't buy the 'fun' items any more because you are restricted to keeping your PC operating on the power curve.

You can buy them, you just have to do it from pocket change, instead of from your Found Item Slots.

I'd say the actual problem is in design: your character cannot use many of the fun items without nerfing himself, because they require Magic Item Daily Usages. A heroic character only has one or two MIDU per day, so if he uses one of those on his Magical Alarm Clock (an actual AV item by some other name I forgot) then he can't use it in combat.

(on the same line, you indeed cannot use flavor rituals, like Fastidiousness, at anywhere near the level they're listed at, because you'll bankrupt yourself)

Basically LFR bundles force you to use weapons to have decent items appropriate for your level,

I don't think it's nearly that bad. Perhaps the discrepancy will grow in paragon, but so far nearly all casters I've seen are viable characters.

The biggest flaw with this solution is "your level or lower". IIRC, the core rules suggest bundles of level +1 to level +4. So, anything of your level or lower is going to have a lower plus than you are "supposed" to have.

I fail to see the problem here. You get a random item of higher level, or an item of your choice of lower level. That sounds like a decent tradeoff, and it stops too many people from just taking the most powerful level+4 weapon all the time.

...and here I was thinking everyone was complaining that LFR was too easy.

Indeed, LFR is too easy, sometimes way too easy. I played my first 7-10 adventure with a group of level-7 characters at high tier, and we won without breaking a sweat. But while that's (imho) a bigger problem than magical item bundles, it is also harder to fix, and probably something to discuss in another thread.
Lets please keep in mind that treasure division in LFR and the core rules differ greatly at three points:
(1) In LFR every PC can select the same item. In a normal campaign only PC can use a specific item.
(2) In LFR there are 6 to 8 "treasure bundles" per 4 encounters. In a core adventure there is only 1 "bundle" per encounter.
(3) In LFR bundles need to be averaged for level 1-4. In core adventures treasure is aiming at 1 level.

These changes have a huge impact on balance, since if we put a level +4 armor (the worst culprit balance wise - especially with the addition of masterwork armor), virtually all PCs can pick it. It would be like placing 5x level +4 armors in a normal game who can then pick level +4 weapons before leveling. The game designers also realized the problem it poses if every PC has several level +4 items. After all, when you start a new PC at a higher level you get a level -1, +0 and +1 item with cash enough for another level -1 item.

There are several important reasons for these difference. RPGA tried a more standard division with certs in Living City and the early days of LG, but learned that that simply does not work in a living campaign. People should take this into account when judging the value of treasure bundles and why in future adventures they will find no level +4 items with level being the highest two levels of the band.

Finally, remember that XXXX1-1 and to a great extend XXXX1-2 have been written BEFORE the release of AV. We (the globals and Chris Tulach) managed to put in a couple of AV items in some of the later XXXX1-2 adventures, but not many.

Note of course, that you are right to point out a potential issue with implements. It is certainly a good discussion.

Pieter Sleijpen
RPGA LFR Global Administrators
...and here I was thinking everyone was complaining that LFR was too easy.

Now you have to min/max your magic items to stay at the power curve?

You have to min/max to stay effective. I think there is a difference there.

A relevant anecdote (yes, I'm well aware that the plural of anecdote isn't data): I played SPEC1-1 recently at a con with three folks at the table using fast play characters. Those characters didn't have any stats above 16. It actually visibly affected their enjoyment of the game that their attacks were missing much more than the three of us who had created our characters manually. I'd say that even an 18 in their main stat would have improved the effectiveness of each character by a good 20%.
The biggest flaw with this solution is "your level or lower". IIRC, the core rules suggest bundles of level +1 to level +4. So, anything of your level or lower is going to have a lower plus than you are "supposed" to have.

You are 1/2 right. Core rules suggest that a party of five players at each level gets access to 4 magic items: one each at level+1 through level+4.

Right now in LFR, assuming about 6 magic item bundles per adventure and a first-level PC, you are getting access to about 18 magic items throughout first level at level+1 through level+5 (or level+7 if an adventure is played at high tier).

That right there is skewing treasure division already toward the high-end of the power curve. So two factors are in place keep the treasure division in LFR from getting completely out of hand: the one found item per level rule, and the fact that the PCs cannot hand the DM a "wish list," as described in the DMG.

In some cases in LFR, PCs are walking around with multiple level+4 items because of the way we have to do treasure bundles. Others, let us say, do not. The "take an item at your level or lower" bundle was imagined and implemented as a way to enable a quasi wish list to get those people who aren't walking around with multiple level+2 through level+4 items a chance to equip themselves more in line with how the rules intended, without at the same time giving the people who are already above the curve a means to remain there.

As Pieter mentions above, if you create a character at a higher level, according to core rules, you get three magic items: level+1, level, and level-1, plus gold enough for another level-1 item. This seems out of whack with the way treasure distribution is done, but it makes sense when you think about the speed of leveling. With core rules, by the time that PC who was lucky enough to find the level+4 item at first level gets to second level, he may find no useful magic items that level, then at third level he may just find a level+1 item. So now he is fourth level with a level+1 item and an on-level item. When looked at in this situation, getting to choose a bundle at your level to get an item you really need isn't so bad a deal.

As I said, the "take an item at your level or lower" bundle is a way to get people what they need without giving the people way ahead of the treasure curve the means to stay ahead of it. I do not see a situation where we will be giving out a bundle that says, "Choose any item you want at your level +x."

Thanks,

Shawn
LFR Global Admin
Wouldn't that cause more players to stick with whatever weapon/armor/implement they're currently using, and thus reduce variation in play?

It will reduce the number of players who take a particular weapon/armor/implement. But, they'll have a reason to stick with their current choice.

i.e. yes, some individual players will have less variation in their say armor choice, but that means more variation in overall kinds of armors being used. If the 7-10 mods have a total of 3 paragon tier armors available, then most people are going to end up with those 3 armors. If each of the 3 levels of mods in heroic tier has a total of 5 armors, that turns it into 15 possible choices.

That's the advantage of being able to upgrade a currently found item(and it should be found, otherwise all kinds of bad things happen)
A suggestion . . .

Be more general AND more specific with the treasure bundles. With some of the suggestions given, treasure bundles will lose "uniqueness" to the mod they are placed in. If every mod has "Pick an item up to your level +X," treasure bundles become trivial because the same mods provide the same rewards.

I'd propose somewhat specific Level+1 (or just Level) item choices that vary from mod to mod. Throwing in a couple VERY specific Level+2 to Level+4 choices makes for some interesting choices, while still leaving access to many sources. For example, consider the following bundles for a 7-10 mod:

SMER1-3
Bundle A: Any Leather Armor up to your Level+1
Bundle B: Any Reach Weapon up to your Level+1
Bundle C: Any Wand up to your Level+1
Bundle D: Any Cloak up to your Level
Bundle E: Specific 11th(low) or 13th(high) item

MADF1-3
Bundle A: Any Scale Armor up to your Level+1
Bundle B: Any Versitile Weapon up to your Level+1
Bundle C: Any Orb up to your Level+1
Bundle D: Any Boots up to your Level
Bundle E: Specific 11th(low) or 13th(high) item

With this system, the "power" of the item stays on-par with the game design, and players will not find exactly the armor/weapon/implement/slot that they need in EVERY adventure. BUT, there will be item variety.

There are pros and cons to every system, of course. You can add this as another idea to throw onto the pile!

Dan Anderson @EpicUthrac
Total Confusion www.totalcon.com
LFR Calimshan Writing Director
LFR Epic Writing Director

LFR Myth Drannor Writing Director

...and here I was thinking everyone was complaining that LFR was too easy.

Now you have to min/max your magic items to stay at the power curve?

Perhaps I was unclear Joe:

Power curve has nothing to do with the difficulty of the module, it has to do with the comparative effectiveness of one PC to another.

Bundles limit several class options as they currently stand. Hence they restrict PCs via magic items, which is something 4e was supposed to get away from.

Why should one class be worse off than another just for not using a weapon? Or why should people who try to use flavourful items be penalised by being 1-2 enhancement bonuses behind everyone else?

Does it mean such a PC suffers in LFR mods? maybe not - but are bundles unbalanced? most definitely.
A suggestion . . . [snip good suggestion]

This is an option that I have discussed with people. If/when we discuss treasure distribution with Chris/WotC again, it will be something we bring up.

Thanks,

Shawn
LFR Global Admin