1. A starter set which radically alters the parent rule system as well. While STILL not playing like the parent system.
But every review from GenCon I've seen says it does play like the parent system. And from what we've seen, half the classes should play very, very similarly to existing classes. It's altering the rules, yes, but the Updates and other changes are likely divorced from the Parcel changes. There's a difference between rule changes and rule additions that add aren't just tacked-on.
2. You know those GP parcel? Use that as Worthless Items no one can use. Because really it's the same thing anyway. Instead of straight GP just describe X item which no one can use which is worth Y amount of GP. It skips the middle man of selling garbage to get a good item while not screwing with the level curves.
This is a good idea. But sometimes I like having piles of cash. But it doesn't solve the issue of still having to give-out four magic items each level. And now instead of having to sit about planning each item of an appropriate level that I'm giving to my PCs, I also have to sit down and find items of the appropriate level that my PCs will not use and if I make a mistake they suddenly have extra gear…
The other items? do take time to replace and phase out. Its' not every fight the fighter is finding a new sword for example. If they are then you aren't using the parcel system correctly by definition. That's also why you -find- better parcels than you can buy with a starting character of a given level. Because they are going to be hanging on to their items for a good while. Or should be.
A good while being 5 levels. Level 1: weapons, L2: armor, L3: neck, L4: characters missed, L5: misc, L6: Weapons, repeat. It repeats twice each tier like clockwork. You could set your watch to when you should be getting your upgrade.
of course with random gear the fighter -could- end up with a new sword every fight. Or a level 1 can end up with a +6 weapon of doom. (Funny stories about random items in 3x I could tell you about how one pc wound up level 2 with a +8 overall sword and the other got..... an art object)
True, if you use random gear all the time. The great thing about adding an option to the game is you have a choice.
The players are delving into an ancient ruin for two levels. It's abandoned and old so you roll randomly for treasure using that system. Then, the next level, they're working for the king who has the resources to give them exactly what they want, filling in gaps in their equipment and using the standard parcel system.
I'm dead set against WOTC creating the balance to support it. According to the track record, they can't do it. They failed in the DMG 3E. They failed in the MIC. They won't be successful this time around, either. The tables will end up biased and likely will encourage one set of builds over another.
Even if the new balance created to support it has no impact on the existing game?
And because they failed before is no reason for them not to try again. They failed to make some monsters interesting for three editions before 4e got them right. There's lots of mechanics that sucked in 3e that they nailed this time round.
They could fail, but not even trying because you might fail is fatherly advice right out of the Simpsons.
Rarity does three things.1) It tells the players what to do. This is a problem when you have new players coming into the game, and you have to deprogram that there are no restrictions on equipment. This mainly is just another annoying sentence you have to add over the phone.
I'd rephrase that "it tells the players what they should do." In that it gives they're expected reaction. Saying that's bad is like saying roles are bad because they tell you how you should play your character.
2) It tells DM's what to do. If I wanted something rare (as other people keep yelling at me about), and I have a new player come in, I have to tell them no. The player, well justified, will tell me that the Rules say he can. Now I have to either allow it, or house rule and have a fight about it.
Opposed to the current rules, which don't tell DMs how rare to make magic or how to run their games at all.
If I have a new player come in and I'm using the inherent bonus rules I have to tell them "no" they can't have their expected three items as outlines in the DMG. It's not that different.
Has this been a problem for you in the past? Do you think the potential for fights over house rules really means an addition shouldn't be added to the game? You could make that argument for any rules element.
Look at the flip side as well. Couldn't you house rule the game for more buying/selling of rare items, and hand them out more often? Doesn’t rarity make it easier to have a high-magic Monty Haul campaign without handing the PCs much higher level items that making hitting and combat too easy?
3) It makes things ugly. No, seriously. It means adding a line of text, and placing 3 tables in a book where we only had one. It chews up slightly more space, and gives you less in return. It's just not worth it so that you can have a gimmick of treasure card packs.
I could say the same thing about adding powers to martial classes or including spell descriptions inside monster stat blocks.
3a) It's been thought of. It's been planned. It's been in the plans since they started thinking about Gamma World. This isn't a bad thing, but I don't feel it's needed just so you can sell treasure card packs.
As for treasure card packs, they haven't mentioned that. It’s not in the products for 2011. And it's not like similar arguments weren't made about the formatting of powers when 4e was released. Just because the rarity sounds the same as the miniature line does not mean they have cards in the works. Common, uncommon, and rare had a meaning and place in D&D for twenty-five years before collectible minis appeared in the game. And, as I mentioned before, the 3e DMG had a very similar distinction between items.
Could they do treasure card packs? Probably. But they'd still need to add that content to the Character Builder, and it isn't set-up for redeemable codes. Unlike Blizzard who has the tech skills to have a CCG with codes and keep it secure (because their game is always online), WotC would have a struggle keeping the content unlocked or preventing codes from circulating or hacks from spreading.
I suspect that giving us an alternative to the parcel system really has very little to do with Essentials. I think the catalyst for this change is actually DarkSun.
In a world where everyone gets inherent bonuses, magic items are supposed to be rare and precious artefacts rather than groceries, and where there's really not much in the way of super-expensive stuff to spend your gold ceramic coins on, using the standard parcel system and the Enchant Magic Item ritual as-is would just be weird. I was actually expecting some viable alternative to be unveiled around the time of DarkSun's release.
I agree. Sad that it took an official release for them to realize the inflexible parcel system made low-magic games awkward.
You get enough gold each level for a couple magic items. But in a game with no magic you're throwing more gold at the PCs they can never spend even in fantasy-Vegas. Parcel variants with non-financial rewards and more consumables or boons – both permanent and short-term – would help that style of game.
If you want to keep the existing system and allow players to buy/craft any magic item that already exists, there's nothing stopping you from doing that. In fact, I'll be doing that in my current PoLand (i.e. not homebrew) campaign, since I've already established that magic item shops/markets/bazaars exist in sufficiently large and cosmopolitan cities in that world. I would also be personally inclined to use the existing system for Eberron and (probably) Forgotten Realmsgames as well.
They've said PCs will be able to make Common items and most existing items will be slipped into the Uncommon category (probably except the base +1,+2,+3 items). It's easy to imagine a lower magic game where PCs can only make Common items or a standard 4e game where PCs can make Uncommon items, or a high-magic Realms style game where the PCs can craft Rare items.