Last week I looked at some issues I’ve been experiencing with magic items in 4th Edition D&D and some possible solutions. This week I’d like to talk about some other possible solutions as well as just some general concepts related to magic items that hopefully generate some interesting ideas for how to handle magic items in your D&D campaigns. There were some fantastic comments on last week’s post and I’m going to incorporate some of the topics or ideas brought up there into this post as well.
I’m sure that magic items in D&D have been talked about for countless hours, but with Wizards of the Coast finally releasing Mordenkainen’s Magical Emporium for 4th Edition in September and my home campaign nearing the middle of the epic tier I’ve been wanting to talk about them here. The handful of times that I ran 3rd Edition D&D I was guilty of handing out items of a much higher level than the party, but I would try to balance it out with concepts like staves only having a small number of charges. The players/characters always loved it, but I would hear from other D&D players outside of the game that they didn’t like what I was doing and that they had the impression it was “contrary to the rules of the game” or something like that. I didn’t mind them much, but was very intrigued by what they were saying.
In which Chatty dives in D&D 4e’s engine and explores the various types of rewards available for its players. He then examines areas where new, interesting types of rewards could be created to enhance the gaming experience of a wider spectrum of players.
I spend most of the week working out the story elements and building an exciting and dangerous, yet balanced, encounter or two. By the time I get to treasure allocation, I’ve spent my creative energy and it’s usually less than an hour to game time. What the heck do I give them? Enter wish lists.
One of the problems with the usual take on magic items is that most of them provide simple mechanical benefits without doing anything truly interesting. This isn’t a fault in and of itself, since magical trinkets need to affect the game in some way. The essence of the problem is when the game renders such mechanical bonuses mundane by assuming the characters have them. The developers increase the challenges in the game based on such assumptions, rendering the potentially fantastic merely necessary.
Let’s talk cursed items for a minute. You remember those, right? Those items you found in random treasure piles that you think might be awesome, and before you know it, they’re changing your gender or biting your back.
Here’s the thing I’ve come to realize: I don’t like magic items period. Sure, they are a staple of fantasy literature. And I have a soft spot for certain classes of magical items, like the strange artifact or consumable item that has to be used at just the right time. +1 Swords? Fiery Platemail? Rings of Jumping? Never a fan.
The second arms and equipment resource book, Adventurer’s Vault 2 is much like the first installment but this time presenting a myriad of items for (as the cover says) ALL character classes. This book begins to fill out some of the under represented classes such as the Swordmage and most of the PHB2 classes that missed out on the items in the first Player’s Handbook and Adventurer’s Vault.