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My solution to the Christmas Tree Effect


Suggestions/House Rules/Homebrew

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Ok so a few premises:
-I dont have a problem with a high magic world. I like magic, and wizards and clerics slinging around the powers of the universe is all fine by me.
-I dont like the reliance characters have on magic items. Like many others I want magic items to feel special, and become a part of a characters history, not something more akin to an article of clothing, to be replaced often and without concern. I want to find a way to make magic items rare and special.
-I do believe that without magic items a lot of additional adjustment is required on the part of the dm. Erasing the magic mart mentality has never been easy both mechanically and in the hearts and minds of players. I want to find a way to do it without having to re-write the book and without penalyzing my players.

For a while now I have been considering what to do about this. And though this is for a specific campaign, if it works it may be a permanent change in my games. My solution has two parts. First is an idea borrowed from a poster here on these boards with some minor tweaks (thanks Brodiggan Gale).

heroic distinctions:

Starting at level 3 you may choose 1 heroic distinction you qualify for at each level. Please note Training Bonuses to not stack with
Enhancement Bonuses.

Defensive Training: The character receives a +1 training bonus to the effective armor bonus of any armor or shield worn.

Improved Defensive Training: The character receives a +2 training bonus to the effective armor bonus of any armor or shield worn. A character must be at least 6th level and have the Defensive Training distinction before selecting this distinction.

Greater Defensive Training: The character receives a +3 training bonus to the effective armor bonus of any armor or shield worn.. A character must be at least 9th level and have the Improved Defensive Training distinction before selecting this distinction.

Penultimate Defensive Training: The character receives a +4 training bonus to the effective armor bonus of any armor or shield worn.. A character must be at least 12th level and have the Greater Defensive Training distinction before selecting this distinction.

Perfect Defensive Training: The character receives a +5 training bonus to the effective armor bonus of any armor or shield worn. A character must be at least 15th level and have the Penultimate Defensive Training distinction before selecting this distinction.

Offensive Training: The character receives a +1 training bonus to attacks and damage with a single type of weapon.

Improved Offensive Training: The character receives a +2 training bonus to attacks and damage with a single type of weapon. A character must be at least 6th level and have the Offensive Training distinction before selecting this distinction.

Greater Offensive Training: The character receives a +3 training bonus to attacks and damage with a single type of weapon. A character must be at least 9th level and have the Offensive Training distinction before selecting this distinction.

Penultimate Offensive Training: The character receives a +4 training bonus to attacks and damage with a single type of weapon. A character must be at least 12th level and have the Greater Offensive Training distinction before selecting this distinction.

Perfect Offensive Training: The character receives a +5 training bonus to attacks and damage with a single type of weapon. A character must be at least 15th level and have the Penultimate Offensive Training distinction before selecting this distinction.

Lucky: The character receives a +1 resistance bonus to their Fortitude, Reflex, and Willpower saves.

Blessed: The character receives a +3 resistance bonus to their Fortitude, Reflex, and Willpower saves. A character must be at least 7th level and have the Lucky distinction before selecting this distinction.

Exalted: The character receives a +5 resistance bonus to their Fortitude, Reflex, and Willpower saves. A character must be at least 13th level and have the Lucky distinction before selecting this distinction.

Hardened: The character's natural armor bonus improves by +1. A character must be at least 6th level before selecting this distinction.

Grizzled: The character's natural armor bonus improves by +3. A character must be at least 10th level and have the Hardened distinction before selecting this distinction.

Iron Skinned: The character's natural armor bonus improves by +5. A character must be at least 14th level and have the Grizzled distinction before selecting this distinction.

Strong: The character receives a +2 training bonus to strength. A character must be at least 5th level before selecting this distinction.

Dextrous: The character receives a +2 training bonus to dexterity. A character must be at least 5th level before selecting this distinction.

Hearty: The character receives a +2 training bonus to constitution. A character must be at least 5th level before selecting this distinction.

Intelligent: The character receives a +2 training bonus to intelligence. A character must be at least 5th level before selecting this distinction.

Wise: The character receives a +2 training bonus to wisdom. A character must be at least 5th level before selecting this distinction.

Charismatic: The character receives a +2 training bonus to charisma. A character must be at least 5th level before selecting this distinction.

Mighty: +4 Training bonus to strength. A character must be at least 10th level and have the Strong distinction before selecting this distinction.

Adroit: +4 Training bonus to dexterity. A character must be at least 10th level and have the Dextrous distinction before selecting this distinction.

Unyielding: +4 Training bonus to constitution. A character must be at least 10th level and have the Hearty distinction before selecting this distinction.

Inspired: +4 Training bonus to intelligence. A character must be at least 10th level and have the Intelligent distinction before selecting this distinction.

Attuned: +4 Training bonus to wisdom. A character must be at least 10th level and have the Wise distinction before selecting this distinction.

Majestic: +4 Training bonus to charisma. A character must be at least 10th level and have the Charismatic distinction before selecting this distinction.

Herculean: +6 Training bonus to strength. A character must be at least 15th level and have the Mighty distinction before selecting this distinction.

Alacritous: +6 Training bonus to dexterity. A character must be at least 15th level and have the Adroit distinction before selecting this distinction.

Titanic: +6 Training bonus to constitution. A character must be at least 15th level and have the Unyielding distinction before selecting this distinction.

Brilliant: +6 Training bonus to intelligence. A character must be at least 15th level and have the Inspired distinction before selecting this distinction.

Enlightened: +6 Training bonus to wisdom. A character must be at least 15th level and have the Attuned distinction before selecting this distinction.

Awe Inspiring: +6 Training bonus to charisma. A character must be at least 15th level and have the Majestic distinction before selecting this distinction.

Magical Training: The character receives a +1 training bonus to attacks and caster level checks when casting a spell. In addition any spell that does hitpoint damage gains a +1 training bonus to the first damage die rolled.

Improved Magical Training: The character receives a +2 training bonus to attacks and caster level checks when casting a spell. In addition any spell that does hitpoint damage gains a +2 training bonus to the first damage die rolled. A character must be at least 6th level and have the Magical Training distinction before selecting this distinction.

Greater Magical Training: The character receives a +3 training bonus to attacks and caster level checks when casting a spell. In addition any spell that does hitpoint damage gains a +3 training bonus to the first damage die rolled. A character must be at least 9th level and have the Magical Training distinction before selecting this distinction.

Penultimate Magical Training: The character receives a +4 training bonus to attacks and caster level checks when casting a spell. In addition any spell that does hitpoint damage gains a +4 training bonus to the first damage die rolled. A character must be at least 12th level and have the Greater Magical Training distinction before selecting this distinction.

Perfect Magical Training: The character receives a +5 training bonus to attacks and caster level checks when casting a spell. In addition any spell that does hitpoint damage gains a +5 training bonus to the first damage die rolled. A character must be at least 15th level and have the Penultimate Magical Training distinction before selecting this distinction.

This replaces 5 of the big six items. And in playtests it makes the characters survivable, but it still assumes between 40% and 60% of normal wealth will still be spent on magic gear.

So to go on top of that I am giving each character the option of a free Super Genius Games Archetype without requiring them to trade out one of the starting packages. For those that dont know the supergenius archetype products assign to each base class one or two sets of 'starting packages' that include various class features the class has. It then gives a bunch of new 'archetype packages' that can be trades for those original class features in any class.

The idea here being that the additional abilities provided by the archetypes will cover any remaining 'need' for magic items. You can take a martial or acher archetype to hit harder or have more varied martial abilities. Or you can take a divine or arcane archetype to add utility/buff/healing etc to your character.

My belief is that with these two changes magic items are no longer needed, and can instead be something given during major plot points. I would eliminate all magic items that gave a purely numerical bonus entirely. So there would be no +1 swords, just 'Viruth, the flaming holy great sword'[with no +xbonus required in front of the flaming and holy properties]

What do people think?


I like it. It seems well thought out and highly workable especially as you get one every level after 3rd.


I like it too. I always hated the idea that I need a bunch of magical gear just to survive.


Looks interesting.

I'm not sure that it totally obviates the need for the basic items, though, especially not a Natural Armor item.

For instance, my current character would probably look like:
3. +1 AC - 1,000
4. +1 weapon - 2,000
5. +2 Str - 4,000
6. +1 saves - 1,000
7. +2 AC - 4,000
8. +2 weapon - 8,000
9. +2 Cha - 4,000
10. +4 Str - 16,000
------------------------
11. +3 saves - 9,0000
12. +3 AC - 9,000
13. +3 weapon - 18,000
14. +4 AC - 16,000
15. +6 Str - 36,000
16. +5 AC - 25,000
17. +5 saves - 25,000
18. +4 Cha - 16,000
19. +4 weapon - 32,000
20. +2 Con - 4,000

End up with:
+5 AC
+5 saves
+4 weapon
+6 Str
+4 Cha
+2 Con

What he actually has right now (lvl 10):
Amulet of Natural Armor +1
Ring of Deflection +1
+1 Full-plate
+1 Shield
+2 Greyflame Scimitar
+1 Shocking Scimitar
+1 Flaming Longbow (Str rating of 5)
+4 Str belt
+2 Cha hat
+1 Cloak of Resistance

Using the itemless rules, I'm down +1 NA, +1 shield, +1 deflection, and up by +1 on armor, so really down +2 AC.

I think it lessens the need for generic or semi-generic loot, but I don't see it obviating it. It certainly means that the generic equipment can drop at a much lower frequency: big 6 items could appear solely to fill out more interesting treasure caches and on sub-boss/boss type critturs.

This seems pretty clear when looking at the loot values all the way through 20th. The total wealth of the stuff I chose ends up at about 26% of the total projected wealth for that level (~220,000 vs. 880,000). Am I missing a piece of the puzzle here?


yeti1069 wrote:


I think it lessens the need for generic or semi-generic loot, but I don't see it obviating it. It certainly means that the generic equipment can drop at a much lower frequency: big 6 items could appear solely to fill out more interesting treasure caches and on sub-boss/boss type critturs.

This seems pretty clear when looking at the loot values all the way through 20th. The total wealth of the stuff I chose ends up at about 26% of the total projected wealth for that level (~220,000 vs. 880,000). Am I missing a piece of the puzzle here?

That is why I am not JUST using heroic distinctions. You also get a free archetype from SGG (without having to replace class abilities). So while when you get into the higher levels you lose a sizable portion of your wealth, you also get somewhere around 1/2 of a class in abilities from the Archetype.

Edit: So for instance, in the case of your specific character at level 10, you would be down 2 AC and the greyflame ability on your weapon. Chances are you would Still have the greflame weapon (that was something I put specifically in the adventure for your character) without the enhancement bonus. And you could pick an archetype, lets say for example the Physical Exemplar from Martial Archetypes. That would give you +1 untyped bonus to fort and revlex, 10 hit points, 3 +1 bonuses to either strength dex or con (treated the same as the ones you get every 4th level) and 2 bonus feats.


Yes you are. The free super genius games archetype. That said, I have no idea what gp value I would give such a thing.


Mortuum wrote:
Yes you are. The free super genius games archetype. That said, I have no idea what gp value I would give such a thing.

That is the real question. My gut tells me it should work out, it should provide the additional options a character needs that usually come from magic items, but I dont even know how to approach running the numbers. I expect it will just be a matter of playtesting.


Ah. Yeah, I haven't looked at those archetypes. That sounds pretty good.

Heck, you could probably just grant the numeric bonuses of the Vow of Poverty as well, though the removes options and does little for dedicated casters.


Is the offense training suppose to apply to multiple weapons such as if one used paired short swords?


Soporific Lotus wrote:
Is the offense training suppose to apply to multiple weapons such as if one used paired short swords?

Yes there would be added value if you used it with two weapon fighting and matched weapons. I am not overly concerned, I dont have a problem eliminating the constant lagging behind 2 weapon users had in terms of magic gear.


Do you modify the value of placed treasure in adventures then?

I'm running, and AP, should I just remove all of the placed "big six" items and leave the remainder and it should work out ok?

BTW, this looks awesome, and I really love the "feat-like" approach. Definitely considering this for my campaign and I will be watching this thread.


Evil Lincoln wrote:

Do you modify the value of placed treasure in adventures then?

I'm running, and AP, should I just remove all of the placed "big six" items and leave the remainder and it should work out ok?

BTW, this looks awesome, and I really love the "feat-like" approach. Definitely considering this for my campaign and I will be watching this thread.

Yes this would without question call for a change in the way you place treasure. Magic items would only come in specific places where the story needs them, perhaps only as 'quest items' where the players specifically seek them out. And money would be considerably less. Probably less then 10% of normal wealth levels. Though starting and 2nd level I would probably leave as normal.


What would be really helpful is a % reduction in placed treasure. Would you call for a 40-60% reduction then?


Evil Lincoln wrote:
What would be really helpful is a % reduction in placed treasure. Would you call for a 40-60% reduction then?

Way more then that. I would say no more then 15% of the usual placed treasure after the characters hit level 3.

But this isnt meant to work with the normal treasure system. The point is to bypass it. I dont want every monster to 'drop' some 'loot'. The idea is to make that essentially unneccessary. Rewards will come when it makes sense within the story. A grateful king provides a chest of gold, or a dieing relative bequeths a magic stord. The idea is to give the characters enough so that they are as competant as they would have been regardless of what treasure they actually recieve.


Kolokotroni wrote:
But this isnt meant to work with the normal treasure system. The point is to bypass it. I dont want every monster to 'drop' some 'loot'. The idea is to make that essentially unneccessary. Rewards will come when it makes sense within the story. A grateful king provides a chest of gold, or a dieing relative bequeths a magic stord. The idea is to give the characters enough so that they are as competant as they would have been regardless of what treasure they actually recieve.

I definitely think this logic and clear guidelines should accompany the rule, then.

Anything that makes it easier for GMs to drop in the campaign...


Evil Lincoln wrote:
What would be really helpful is a % reduction in placed treasure. Would you call for a 40-60% reduction then?

Thats where I would see it headed.

I love the idea that this setup allows for the fun, flavorful magic items to be "more common" a magic cloak would most likely be a cloak of the bat, or montebank, or the spider; and thse items would be enjoyed because there would be no "Well its not a cloak of resistance so I'm not interested in that (sub-optimal) gear."

One odd ball question concerning the saving throw bonus and the protection domain for cleric types. I would assume that as both are resistance bonuses they would not stack, just as the cloak and the granted ability do not stack currently?


Dragonsong wrote:
Evil Lincoln wrote:
What would be really helpful is a % reduction in placed treasure. Would you call for a 40-60% reduction then?

Thats where I would see it headed.

I love the idea that this setup allows for the fun, flavorful magic items to be "more common" a magic cloak would most likely be a cloak of the bat, or montebank, or the spider; and thse items would be enjoyed because there would be no "Well its not a cloak of resistance so I'm not interested in that (sub-optimal) gear."

That is the objective of JUST the heroic distinctions. I believe if using heroic distinctions you should be looking to reduce standard treasure 40-60%. Probably providing 40% treasure after level 2 and then slowly increasing it to around 60% treasure as you hit higher levels. I think the dm would have to feel this out, as it really depends on which bonuses the players choose. But since WBL is a guideline anyway, each dm already has to sort of feel that out.

The objective here though is to almost completely remove magic items. With the addition of the Super Genius Archetype, that cloak of the arachnid or what have you would be one of one or two magic items the character would have throughout the whole campaign. And there wouldnt be anywhere to sell it or buy something different.

One odd ball question concerning the saving throw bonus and the protection domain for cleric types. I would assume that as both are resistance bonuses they would not stack, just as the cloak and the granted ability do not stack currently?

Correct, they are both resistance bonuses, the normal rules apply there That is why they are not training bonuses like the rest of them.


Fair enough Kolokotroni.

I actually like that you could take the idea and run it in one of two modes Just heroic distinctions and 40-60% treasure after level 2.

Or the combined and remove all but plot relevant/ heroic rewards and drop to around 10-15% treasure.

But then again as far as "Low Magic" goes I am a big fan of the High fantasy, high personal magic (spell casters are OK) but low items.

I do love the utility items like the haversack, the spoon, campfire beads, etc. however. So for me I might go option one.


One very minor but significant change I would recommend here is renaming the score booster distinctions so they follow some equivalent of the Lesser, Improved, Greater naming convention and arranging them into groups. It doesn't need to be any less flavourful and it would make the whole thing a lot easier to read and take in.

e.g.

Strong, Somewhat

Strong, Really Quite

Strong, So Damn

Dexterous, Somewhat

etc.


I know this doesn't change the PCs need of magic gear but;

In my campaigns i encourage the PCs to keep low-level gear they get and through either themselves our NPC that they have befriended to enhance that gear and make it a unique item to that PC as they progress through levels.

Then without me having to "loot drop" such items as;

Amulet of Natural Armor(+3)- Green Dragon Tooth Necklace(The PC fought a green dragon and the fighter has taken Crafts and Professions to allow him to craft trinkets from fallen foes. He know has the wizard enbue it as they progress.

Some of the PCs have even named and enchanted weapons and armor making them unique and full of character, each item has a story to it now.

It makes the game feel more realistic.


As much as I like the "feat-like" format, it might actually be a good thing to just use the bonuses instead. It drives home the point that these abilities are replacing magic item bonuses.


Dragonsong wrote:

Fair enough Kolokotroni.

I actually like that you could take the idea and run it in one of two modes Just heroic distinctions and 40-60% treasure after level 2.

Or the combined and remove all but plot relevant/ heroic rewards and drop to around 10-15% treasure.

But then again as far as "Low Magic" goes I am a big fan of the High fantasy, high personal magic (spell casters are OK) but low items.

I do love the utility items like the haversack, the spoon, campfire beads, etc. however. So for me I might go option one.

I agree, I think the best thing anyone can provide is a toolkit for dms. Because not everything is going to be right for every game or every campaign or every world.

I also think even an abundance of 'utility' items would not adversely effect a campaign that used both heroic distinctions and the extra genius archetype. A handy haversack doenst make someone more powerful, and certainly doesnt throw off balance. neather do campfire beads. This is just speculation, but I dont see a reason why such utility items cant be available in abundance along side the full system.

The idea here is to give the dm the choice. The players do NEED the magic items, but that doesnt mean the DM cant give them anyway. That is after all a judgement call.


Evil Lincoln wrote:
As much as I like the "feat-like" format, it might actually be a good thing to just use the bonuses instead. It drives home the point that these abilities are replacing magic item bonuses.

What do you mean just use the bonuses?


Kolokotroni wrote:
Evil Lincoln wrote:
As much as I like the "feat-like" format, it might actually be a good thing to just use the bonuses instead. It drives home the point that these abilities are replacing magic item bonuses.
What do you mean just use the bonuses?

Instead of the "greater" "improved" terminology, just "Strong +4" or whatever. It's purely a matter of taste, of course, but it would help make it clear not only what the bonuses are but that they are replacing equipment.


2 people marked this as a favorite.
Evil Lincoln wrote:
Kolokotroni wrote:
Evil Lincoln wrote:
As much as I like the "feat-like" format, it might actually be a good thing to just use the bonuses instead. It drives home the point that these abilities are replacing magic item bonuses.
What do you mean just use the bonuses?
Instead of the "greater" "improved" terminology, just "Strong +4" or whatever. It's purely a matter of taste, of course, but it would help make it clear not only what the bonuses are but that they are replacing equipment.

I actually want to remove that kind of terminology from the game. I want any aspect of your character to be something you can say in the game world. The description should make it clear enough for my tastes but feel free to do whatever you wish with it if you decide to use it.


I'm unfamiliar with the SGG archetypes, but I'd like to see how this held up at higher levels. I'd be keeping an eye out to see if higher-level PCs can still handle threats appropriate to their level. After a point, more options are limited by action economy, so that would be my main worry, that more abilities from the archetypes wouldn't mean much. But this looks like a well-designed set-up. Keep us posted when you get done testing this out!


Lathiira wrote:
I'm unfamiliar with the SGG archetypes, but I'd like to see how this held up at higher levels. I'd be keeping an eye out to see if higher-level PCs can still handle threats appropriate to their level. After a point, more options are limited by action economy, so that would be my main worry, that more abilities from the archetypes wouldn't mean much. But this looks like a well-designed set-up. Keep us posted when you get done testing this out!

Right but very few magic items help with the action economy. So by that same token the magic items wouldnt help either.


Kolokotroni wrote:
Evil Lincoln wrote:
What would be really helpful is a % reduction in placed treasure. Would you call for a 40-60% reduction then?

Way more then that. I would say no more then 15% of the usual placed treasure after the characters hit level 3.

Not sure what the Genius archetypes are providing, but with just the heroic distinctions or whatever, it looks like they eat up close to 100% of your WBL up to level 8ish and then start to drop off a bit. At level 20, the system on its own looks to comprise around 25-30% of the total suggested/projected/standard(?) WBL.

That seems to indicate that, early on, reducing the wealth drops to something like 10% standard would be reasonable, but later in the game you'd likely want to get up to the 40-60% range. Again, this is without knowledge of the archetype stuff (maybe I'll get a chance to look at that whenever I'm over at your place next?).


I really like this system, its pretty much what I've been trying to do for a long time. I will be using it much as is, but with the following changes:

The Characters Get Hero Points, and do not get free archetypes.

Instead of Strong, Dextrous, etc. you can buy a distinction that gives you 6 points to spend in increasing your characters point buy.

These are Heroic at 5th level, Legendary at 10th level, and Demigod* at 15th level.
*Can be renamed Mythic, I just consider high level characters to be effectively demigods.

In addition instead of gaining stat increases at every 4th level, point buy is increased beyond first level. You gain 1 point a level from 2-4, 2 points a level from 5-9, 3 points from 10-14, and 4 points from 15-20.

I think it works nicely with you existing system and helps out MAD characters a bit more. Thanks for putting this up anyway! Cheers!


Kolokotroni wrote:
Lathiira wrote:
I'm unfamiliar with the SGG archetypes, but I'd like to see how this held up at higher levels. I'd be keeping an eye out to see if higher-level PCs can still handle threats appropriate to their level. After a point, more options are limited by action economy, so that would be my main worry, that more abilities from the archetypes wouldn't mean much. But this looks like a well-designed set-up. Keep us posted when you get done testing this out!
Right but very few magic items help with the action economy. So by that same token the magic items wouldnt help either.

Sorry, I wasn't clear. You described the archetypes further upthread as being like "half a class", I believe. Well, even if you add that much, like gestalt, a PC can only use so many of their options per round. They may have oodles of options, but can only do so much. The big-6 items don't take actions to use; they're continuous. So my concern would be that the addition of the archetypes doesn't adequately make up for the power differential between "normal" PCs and your system, if there ends up being such a differential. That's all.


Lathiira wrote:
Kolokotroni wrote:
Lathiira wrote:
I'm unfamiliar with the SGG archetypes, but I'd like to see how this held up at higher levels. I'd be keeping an eye out to see if higher-level PCs can still handle threats appropriate to their level. After a point, more options are limited by action economy, so that would be my main worry, that more abilities from the archetypes wouldn't mean much. But this looks like a well-designed set-up. Keep us posted when you get done testing this out!
Right but very few magic items help with the action economy. So by that same token the magic items wouldnt help either.
Sorry, I wasn't clear. You described the archetypes further upthread as being like "half a class", I believe. Well, even if you add that much, like gestalt, a PC can only use so many of their options per round. They may have oodles of options, but can only do so much. The big-6 items don't take actions to use; they're continuous. So my concern would be that the addition of the archetypes doesn't adequately make up for the power differential between "normal" PCs and your system, if there ends up being such a differential. That's all.

Well obviously thats a concern, but it depends on the archetype you choose. Some like the physical exemplar give nothing but static bonus, so that has nothing to do with the action economy, and line up nicely big six items. Others like the Wise Divine archetype 6 levels of divine casting (with a highly restricted spell list), which is akin to carrying around a powerful staff (and thus subject to the action economy issue).


yeti1069 wrote:
Kolokotroni wrote:
Evil Lincoln wrote:
What would be really helpful is a % reduction in placed treasure. Would you call for a 40-60% reduction then?

Way more then that. I would say no more then 15% of the usual placed treasure after the characters hit level 3.

Not sure what the Genius archetypes are providing, but with just the heroic distinctions or whatever, it looks like they eat up close to 100% of your WBL up to level 8ish and then start to drop off a bit. At level 20, the system on its own looks to comprise around 25-30% of the total suggested/projected/standard(?) WBL.

It depends on what you choose, but the couple I put together were around went from 40-60% at level 6 and 10.

EG
Based on the level restrictions for bonuses I dont think it can ever reach 100%. But again it will fluctuate depending on what players choose.

Heres an example of one I wrote up for a str based combatant with the level, distinction taken, and the total value (plus % of wbl)

3 Offensive Training -2k (66% of wealth)
4 Defensive traing - 3k (50% of wealth)
5 Strong - 7k (66%)
6 Hardened 9k (~56%)
7 lucky 10k (~42%)
8 Improved offensive training 16k (~48%)
9 Blessed 24K (~52%)
10 Mighty 36K (~58%)
11 Improved Defensive Training 39K (~47%)
12 Greater Offensive Training 49k (~45%)
13 Exhalted 65k (~46%)
14 Penultimate Offensive Training 79K (42%)
15 Herculean 99K (~41%)

It is really going to fluctuate depending on which ones you take. In this example i could have took exclusively more expensive options but that would have left out things like natural armor, and resistance items, which I dont think people are going to do very often.


I'm not sure how attractive the natural armor bit is, actually. If you are that concerned about AC, you're probably a combatant and therefore care about at least one physical stat, maybe 2, and your weapon enhancement as well. Then it's a choice between improving your armor or your natural armor. Add in 1-3 levels spent on the saves bonus, and there isn't much room for NA.

If you aren't a combatant I find it unlikely that AC will be a concern, given how hard it is to obtain without being a monk or an armor-wearer, though I suppose some might take that.

Also, I see that armor and shields are lumped in together. Is that, take Defensive 1 and gain +1 to your armor AND shield, or +1 to your armor OR shield? If it's the latter using a shield becomes almost pointless, because it's drawing much too heavily from everything else you need. If it's the first...that I guess ends up being roughly equal to the TWF crowd who gets extra enhancement bonuses when using a pair of the same weapon.


A couple issues you may want to think about:

When magic items are rare and the PCs are getting some, as appropriate as treasure, it can be hard to keep PCs on a balanced playing field. Like a player in my first low magic campaign (using the old-fashioned adjust encounters/NPCs accordingly method) said, “Okay, so the archer got an awesome bow… and the wizard got an awesome staff… that’s cool. (Turns to me.) Are there any healers that need to be killed?” True, everyone gets bonuses to make up for the loss except some characters will get the extra boost from the treasure on top of that. Meanwhile everyone else has to wait on the next plot point/your generosity to catch up. There are ways around this, just don’t get stuck in that trap.

How are you going to treat NPCs? Are you going to build them using this system too? If not - the players may have a hard time with the enemies getting to run around with wands (ect.) while they can’t, no matter how cool the alternative system is. Also, if they have the books or are really into fantasy, it sucks to read about all these cool items you will never get to see. You may find your players easily lured away by shinies. If so – it’s just a lot of work. It may be worth it to you though.


I find it so strange that the simple and obvious answer: ditch Mage-O-Mart, stop giving out items, and encourage crafting

is always] thrown out in favor of every other possibility.

If your players think magic items are cheap dime-a-dozen items, its because YOU as the GM have given them this expectation.

The classic and simple solution is "magic items need ingredients" and you have to go get some for your goodie to be made. Makes them appriciate the McGuffin more that way.


Crafting only works if your game features a lot of periods of down time. If not, you never get to craft anything.


yeti1069 wrote:

I'm not sure how attractive the natural armor bit is, actually. If you are that concerned about AC, you're probably a combatant and therefore care about at least one physical stat, maybe 2, and your weapon enhancement as well. Then it's a choice between improving your armor or your natural armor. Add in 1-3 levels spent on the saves bonus, and there isn't much room for NA.

If you aren't a combatant I find it unlikely that AC will be a concern, given how hard it is to obtain without being a monk or an armor-wearer, though I suppose some might take that.

Also, I see that armor and shields are lumped in together. Is that, take Defensive 1 and gain +1 to your armor AND shield, or +1 to your armor OR shield? If it's the latter using a shield becomes almost pointless, because it's drawing much too heavily from everything else you need. If it's the first...that I guess ends up being roughly equal to the TWF crowd who gets extra enhancement bonuses when using a pair of the same weapon.

I think i will reword it to a type of armor or a type of shield the way offensive training works. I dont think the 2 for one is appropriate in this case at they are different things.

As for natural armor, if you ignore it you wont get it, at least in the system i am proposing, there wont be amulets of natural armor for you to pick up lying around all over the place. Inevitably its the players choice, but I certainly wouldnt ignore natural armor as a combat character particularly because it scales faster then defensive bonuses.


dave.gillam wrote:

I find it so strange that the simple and obvious answer: ditch Mage-O-Mart, stop giving out items, and encourage crafting

is always] thrown out in favor of every other possibility.

If your players think magic items are cheap dime-a-dozen items, its because YOU as the GM have given them this expectation.

The classic and simple solution is "magic items need ingredients" and you have to go get some for your goodie to be made. Makes them appriciate the McGuffin more that way.

I am looking for a way to actually ditch the magic mart. The problem is crafting alone doesn't cover it, the players actually need these items to stay competitive, making it harder to get or craft them just penalizes the players for a flawed system, it doesn't solve the problem.


Encyclopaedia Arcane had a wonderful alternative system in my opinion, it makes the creation of a magic item both epic and not just the domain of spellcasters.


Kolokotroni wrote:


I think i will reword it to a type of armor or a type of shield the way offensive training works. I dont think the 2 for one is appropriate in this case at they are different things.

The problem with this is that it necessarily penalizes characters using shields pretty heavily. Even more than any other type of non-spellcaster.

THF character spends ranks on their weapon and armor.
TWF character use two of the same weapon and spend ranks on their 2 weapons and armor.
S&B character spends ranks on their weapon, shield and armor. In addition to being weaker in melee than the above two under a normal system (kind of close to the TWF, with pros and cons for each), and is way behind in this system as they have a much weaker off-hand attack and are basically not gaining any AC or are losing quite a bit in other areas (weapon, saves, stats).

If the offense option is going to apply to two weapons, the defense option should be applying to both armor and shields. Otherwise, why EVER use a shield? +2 AC? The THF or TWF guy could just pick up 2 natural armor and equal that--the S&B character can't afford to get armor, shield, weapon and NA bonuses, so if all 3 characters cared about AC, the THF and TWF would probably end up with about as much NA bonus as the shielded guy has, maybe even enough to equal the base shield bonus + enhancement.

And I'll point out that achieving an AC that is really meaningful gets harder and harder as the levels progress to begin with without making attaining it more difficult.

Quote:


As for natural armor, if you ignore it you wont get it, at least in the system i am proposing, there wont be amulets of natural armor for you to pick up lying around all over the place. Inevitably its the players choice, but I certainly wouldn't ignore natural armor as a combat character particularly because it scales faster then defensive bonuses.

That was my point: there's almost no room for it as anything other than a way to accelerate your AC growth in a particular level range. Sure, there is a trade-off, but I'd imagine that most characters likely wouldn't be spending more than 5-7 of their ranks on AC, because after that, you're losing too much everywhere else. So the NA ends up being a way to boost your AC earlier (Defense at 3, NA at 4 for +2 AC at 4 instead of having to wait until level 6), which is nice, but it likely isn't something that is going to really share space with the armor bonus. If you wanted +5 AC, maybe you spend 3 of that on NA and 2 on armor, or vice versa, rather than, say, buying +5 armor and +2 or +3 or higher NA.


I've heard of this being done. Whereby the DM kept it low magic and gave them bonuses level by level.

A way I get around this problem is pretty much take away magic item shops and really discourage magic item crafting. They should be heroes not magical accountants obsessed with crafting, profit and catching all the enhancements and rubbing them against each body part.

Another option, you cannot look for such an item, you know this exists, your character doesn't, look at your sheet and skills.

Another option, and a little evil. All that magical concentration attracts nishruus and the anti-magic camel in misfit monsters.

Another option, I used to get rid of a ring of sustenance (an item a player was obsessed about and always trying to get for his characters, multiple character, in a game about survival and toughing it out). After trekking days through the desert and becoming quite tired and injured by the elements, the character realises his ring is not on his finger. He looks, it is not around. DM: you could go back and search for it?

Another option, although it will rout full-body-slot-filling-players, is to throw rust monsters and rust lords at them. Keep the items down to a couple each. I really like Rust lords.

Andoran

Pathfinder Battles Case Subscriber; Pathfinder Roleplaying Game Subscriber
3.5 Loyalist wrote:

I've heard of this being done. Whereby the DM kept it low magic and gave them bonuses level by level.

A way I get around this problem is pretty much take away magic item shops and really discourage magic item crafting.

How does this fix the issue of the game being designed with the expectation that PCs will use magic item bonuses to overcome equal level encounters? Unless you adjust encounters accordingly in addition to your stated changes?


Easy, if the party is low magic (and not level 1-3) assume they are one to two CRs lower, and don't go much higher than their CR in opponents. Be very careful at giving them a 12 if they are 10s, cap it out at 10.

Andoran

Pathfinder Battles Case Subscriber; Pathfinder Roleplaying Game Subscriber

That sounds reasonable. By 'cap it out at 10' do you mean an E6 style approach, or just having the game end after reaching level 10 and defeating the main villain?


Well for level and progression I like the party to swiftly more to about 8, and then slow them right down. In regards to dealing with the relative weakness of a low magic party with few enhancements, you don't often throw monsters with a CR above their average level.

A high magic party of level 11s, should go through a CR 13 without much difficulty (or 14-15 if their tactics are solid). That may really not be the case if you pit low magic level 11s against a CR 13.

Another idea is to have less items, less giant enchantments, no magic item shops, buuuuuuut, remove DR entirely.

:O


3.5 Loyalist wrote:

Well for level and progression I like the party to swiftly more to about 8, and then slow them right down. In regards to dealing with the relative weakness of a low magic party with few enhancements, you don't often throw monsters with a CR above their average level.

A high magic party of level 11s, should go through a CR 13 without much difficulty (or 14-15 if their tactics are solid). That may really not be the case if you pit low magic level 11s against a CR 13.

Another idea is to have less items, less giant enchantments, no magic item shops, buuuuuuut, remove DR entirely.

:O

Certainly an experience dm can go 'low magic items' and then re-work the challenges to meet the party's lower capabilities. But my objective here is to not have to adjust every monster I use, AND get rid of the magic mart.

What works for your table is all well and good, but I dont need rust monsters, or thieves to solve my problem, any dm can take away magic items and not worry about it. What I am trying to do is replace what players get with magic items, so they aren't needed to face the kinds of challenges a party could under the 'normal' magic mart friendly system.


Kolokotroni wrote:
Evil Lincoln wrote:

Do you modify the value of placed treasure in adventures then?

I'm running, and AP, should I just remove all of the placed "big six" items and leave the remainder and it should work out ok?

BTW, this looks awesome, and I really love the "feat-like" approach. Definitely considering this for my campaign and I will be watching this thread.

Yes this would without question call for a change in the way you place treasure. Magic items would only come in specific places where the story needs them, perhaps only as 'quest items' where the players specifically seek them out. And money would be considerably less. Probably less then 10% of normal wealth levels. Though starting and 2nd level I would probably leave as normal.

I was going to implement a very similar mechanic to this until recently. Our gaming group in which i am not GMing gains magic points to spend on magic item-like effects in a similar fashion as a regular game uses gold.

We get very little loot.

And that, my friend is a problem. Finding loot is very rewarding feeling, if you dont get any or only very little, you start feeling that your adventuring is pointless. You just don't get anything out of it. Yeah there is XP, level-ups and the bonuses you subsequently get instead of magic items. But it just doesn't feel the same as cracking open a treasure chest and finding a magic sword inside.

Now I can understand that finding magic stuff like sand on a beach takes away from that too, but that doesn't mean you have to all but eliminate magic items.
Limit them yes, but only slightly. Players will feel much better if they don't have to wade through dungeon after dungeon without finding so much as their next breakfast worth of treasure.
Some players even NEED the kick of finding cool new gear regularly.


Threeshades wrote:

I was going to implement a very similar mechanic to this until recently. Our gaming group in which i am not GMing gains magic points to spend on magic item-like effects in a similar fashion as a regular game uses gold.

We get very little loot.

And that, my friend is a problem. Finding loot is very rewarding feeling, if you dont get any or only very little, you start feeling that your adventuring is pointless. You just don't get anything out of it. Yeah there is XP, level-ups and the bonuses you subsequently get instead of magic items. But it just doesn't feel the same as cracking open a treasure chest and finding a magic sword inside.

Now I can understand that finding magic stuff like sand on a beach takes away from that too, but that doesn't mean you have to all but eliminate magic items.
Limit them yes, but only slightly. Players will feel much better if they don't have to wade through dungeon after dungeon without finding so much as their next breakfast worth of treasure.
Some players even NEED the kick of finding cool new gear regularly.

I would agree with you that it is always a good feeling to crack open the treasure chest and get cool stuff. But the game has taken it to rediculous proportions at high levels. And honestly, as a player I dont feel the rush anymore, because i am know that +1 sword is just for a couple levels. I also plan to have plenty of cool new gear in my game, but it will actually do stuff besides give +x to y. The need for big six items especially means interesting items have been all but completely abandoned.

In the end it is a matter of style. For my group managing treasure is quite literally impossible without giant magic marts all over the place. We are a big group, and we dont have the ability to make sure everyone is at every game. With that kind of rotating player base its impossible as a dm to make sure players get what they need without the possibility of someone else getting way over geared. So I am looking for alternatives. Hopefully in the reduction in the number of items, will make that moment when you get the item all the more special. I will have to wait and see.


Threeshades wrote:

I was going to implement a very similar mechanic to this until recently. Our gaming group in which i am not GMing gains magic points to spend on magic item-like effects in a similar fashion as a regular game uses gold.

We get very little loot.

And that, my friend is a problem. Finding loot is very rewarding feeling, if you dont get any or only very little, you start feeling that your adventuring is pointless. You just don't get anything out of it. Yeah there is XP, level-ups and the bonuses you subsequently get instead of magic items. But it just doesn't feel the same as cracking open a treasure chest and finding a magic sword inside....

Some players even NEED the kick of finding cool new gear regularly.

Just brainstorming here, but what if you somehow combined the "loot" and "innate bonuses" ideas, so maybe you still have to discover arcane reagents or magic gems/herbs/snails/etc. in order to unlock your innate abilities through some in-game rituals or something? That way you get the joy of finding new loot, the ability to upgrade your character in-game instead of just when you level, and still get away from the christmas tree effect.


I've read it and I like the idea, but for me there is still a big problem.

Why should I take "offensive training" or "defensive training" for my character? I can get "strong" or "dextrous" instead.

I tried to use this for my Magus and planning the next levels, but every time i'll end with increasing the attributes before choosing these weapon or armor bonuses

For example:

lvl3: +1 to all saves
lvl4: offensive or defensive training +1
lvl5: +2 primary attribute (str)
lvl6: +2 secondary attribute (con or int)
lvl7: +3 to all saves
lvl8: +2 secondary attributes(con or int)
lvl9: improved offensive or defensive training +2
lvl10: +4 primary attribute (str)
lvl11: +4 secondary attribute (con or int)
lvl12: + 4 secondary attribute (con or int)

I really like the whole idea, but at the moment it is no working for me. Maybe with some restrictions, at which level you can take another improvement to the attributes or something.

Ooh, and I am sorry for my bad english :)

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