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The Big Six


Pathfinder RPG General Discussion

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This is a spinoff thread for the discussion of the Big Six magic items and their relevance to the campaign. Another poster referred to them as "the tyranny of WBL", and I don't begrudge the view. But I don't see it that way. So let's discuss like grownups! Yay!


Anlerran wrote:

Don't want to be a downer, but doesn't the absolute tyranny of the Wealth By Level rules completely negate any value of a book like this?

Any new magic items that share spaces with the 'Big Six' are never going to get used?

Evil Lincoln wrote:

WBL is a guideline for GMs, not a hard cap on distribution. Raise/lower the effective APL and starve/glut them for treasure for a while until it comes back in line with WBL — nothing on these tables contradicts that. The way you refer to WBL in this post leads me to think that something is malfunctioning badly in your game (at least from my perspective).

In fact, the new method looks like it will make it easier for GMs to track how much treasure they hand out, since they start with the total rather than rolling up random values and adding them together.

Anlerran wrote:

No, what I meant was that magic items are hardwired into the 3rd edition progression rules.

This book could have loads of neat amulets, cloaks, rings, belts etc that nobody is ever going to use because NOT taking the 'Big Six' apparently gimps your character into complete unplayability...

Evil Lincoln wrote:

All I can say is that internet theory isn't rules. You seem to be taking a lot on faith from the keyboards of on-line know-it-alls.

I don't want to discount it entirely, the big 6 is a thing. But in a sufficiently diverse campaign... ah crap you know what? Let's talk over here.

Let me also add that I have no intention of "winning" this discussion or making anyone else look foolish.


Firstly, I understand you're being hyperbolic, but "absolute tyranny of WBL" is a strange perspective. Do you mean organized play?

In the standard course of the game, my players drift WAY over WBL (dragon hoard), and then end up behind as well. WBL isn't a rule that constrains the amount available to the players, it's a yardstick so that the GM can add everything up and decide whether the average party level is effectively higher than the basic calculation would suggest.

For instance, my runelords party is 14th level, but the module calls for them to be 15th. They've had an artificer (ardwright, actually) for many levels, and this has lead to them being over WBL. So, I treat them as effectively +1 or +2 APL, because they have abundant resources.

Shadow Lodge

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I sometimes get the feeling reading posts on these forums that whenever players level up, magical treasure fairies drop hundreds of GPs into their bags when they aren't looking, but they aren't allowed to actually find any other treasure until they level up again and the treasure fairies strike again.


My party has somewhat subverted this by having a clever and extremely skilled crafter. They have the Big 6 items, but most of them have secondary items "tacked on" (ex: Cloak of Resistance that also functions as a Cloak of Elvenkind, or the ever-popular "Circlet of Persuasion and Also +4 Charisma" xD ).

Now, the ability of a highly skilled crafter to effectively double the PC's money (especially when said crafter sleeps in a Rope Trick and uses Shrink Item and similar tricks to carry all their crafting supplies around) is an entirely different can of worms that I am currently dealing with. :)


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Pathfinder Roleplaying Game Subscriber

I highly doubt that someone without every single one of the Big Six will be "gimped into complete unplayability". My doubts come from seeing my fair share of high level play where most characters in the party did not have the big six, and we did just fine.

I recall hearing a phrase recently. "Math and theorywanking is nice and all, but it can't beat actual playtesting."


I don't think WBL is tyrranical, but I have had players try to hold "but we're lower than WBL" over my head as some kind of indication that I'm a fundamentally bad GM and Doing It Wrong (never mind I bore in mind the players' equipment when I designed encounters). There might be an attempted player tyranny, there, but then I'm the one who owns the world and controls it, so really, I get to win on the tyrrany part.

I think WBL is a decent guideline, and I'm glad it's there for creating characters higher than 1st level in particular. But yeah, the problem is less with WBL itself and more with the mindset of certain gamers that because there's a table in there, the GM must abide by it to the letter or face the gods of Ragnarok.

For the Big Six, what the higher CR encounters assume is that players have their primary stat boosted beyond what 15 point buy plus leveling could give them, that they have a weapon with a magical enhancement, that they have a higher armor class than ordinary equipment could give them, and that their saving throws are higher than they could have "naked." The Big Six are the published core items that most easily satisfy the previous "requirements."

If you want to move away from the Big Six, there's two ways to do it:
1. Don't attack PCs with max CR creatures
2. Make custom items that provide the needed stat boosts but in different combination -- a magic cloak made of treebark that gives you a natural armor bonus and a boost to fortitude saves, instead of the bog standard amulet of NA and cloak of resistance, for example (obviously to be used in combination with other stuff).

Both of these do require some work upon the part of the GM.


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Cheapy wrote:
"Math and theorywanking is nice and all, but it can't beat actual playtesting."

FIFY


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DeathQuaker wrote:
I don't think WBL is tyrranical, but I have had players try to hold "but we're lower than WBL" over my head as some kind of indication that I'm a fundamentally bad GM and Doing It Wrong

This is a little like a Featherweight boxer complaining that he doesn't get to go up against Heavyweights. WBL is a challenge metric, not a welfare program. It should work just as well if you are 2 tiers under or over — its job is not to constrain the GM but to enable the GM to make a semi-accurate call about adjusting the challenge!

In other words, right on, DQ.


Pathfinder Roleplaying Game Subscriber
Evil Lincoln wrote:
Cheapy wrote:
"Math and theorywanking is nice and all, but it can't beat actual playtesting."
FIFY

Nah, you need to keep an eye out for things with playtesting, hence the emphasis on testing. It's the difference between passive and active perception :)


What are these "big six" items? I've seen them refereed to but have never seen them listed.


Buri wrote:
What are these "big six" items? I've seen them refereed to but have never seen them listed.

I had to Google it:

Andy Collins wrote:


Instead, the majority of a character’s item slots are spent on what I call the “Big Six”:

Magic weapon
Magic armor & shield
Ring of protection
Cloak of resistance
Amulet of natural armor
Ability-score boosters

Link to the article.


Buri wrote:
What are these "big six" items? I've seen them refereed to but have never seen them listed.

I would like to know this as well, since I've seen variations of the big six being listed all with the same title of "the big six."


Forgive my ignorance - what do WBL and APL stand for?


The Big 6:
Magic Armor, Magic Weapon, Ring of Deflection, Amulet of Natural Armor, Cloak of Resistance, Item of Primary Stat.

WBL: Wealth by Level, the suggested PC wealth at each level.
APL: Average Party Level, used for designing "balanced" encounters.


Pathfinder Adventure Path Charter Subscriber
cannon fodder wrote:
Forgive my ignorance - what do WBL and APL stand for?

Wealth By Level

Average Party Level

-- david
Papa.DRB


Ah, thanks. Carry on.


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The standard rule is that you can add more effects to items by taking a 50% penalty on the next cheapest cost. Which means if you want to have a +5 cloak of resistance, you can also make that cloak a +5 resistance cloak of arachnida, or a +5 resistance lesser displacement cloak of arachnida. It just keeps getting more expensive.

That being said, it does create a heavily limiting factor, and the OP is correct for the most part. Almost all characters are going to want a deflection, natural, resistance, ability score boosters, armor/shield boosters, and so forth. Certain character builds might not (if your AC is going to suck after all of those, somehow, then you might as well skip those and get something else), but since even wizards can get respectable ACs with +5 silk armor, +5 mithral bucklers, +5 natural armor, +5 deflection, and +1 insight, and like a +7 dexterity modifier (AC 40 at 20th, before spell-based evasion buffs), even the folks who want to stay out of the fray tend to load up on these things.

By why do we load up on big-six items? Well, because they enhance your rate of survival. They enhance your rate of survival like no other items. At the end of the day, what does it matter if you have a spoon of tasty wheat (or whatever it was called) because you need to be alive to enjoy your tasty wheat spoon. Simply put, +2 to all saving throws (4,000 gp) is probably going to serve your survival more than your more expensive spoon of tasty wheat (5,400 gp). Why? Because you can pack tons of dried food in your stuff, and a simple purify food & drink orison deals with spoilage, but +2 to all your saving throws isn't something that there's an easy answer for. Likewise, there are no long duration buffs that replace those items. There are not 1 hour/level or similar spells or effects that give resistance bonuses that scale with your level, so you definitely need those magic items to help.

Part of the system's fault is not the system's fault at all, but our own fault. The system gives us very usable rules for creating new items, modifying existing items, combining item effects, or even just getting items on different slots. Heck, Pathfinder even removed the disassociated slot penalties. There's nothing stopping you in non-PFS games from having an Amulet of Mighty Fists that is actually a Robe. Or having a mask of resistance +5. Nor is there anything stopping you from creating more interesting items, like red-colored cloaks of resistance that give +3 resistance, fire resistance 10, and constant endure elements (15,000 gp by the way), which you call "Cloaks of the Crimson Guard" or something equally cool. Then there's nothing to stop you from deciding that instead of a cloak it will be a belt instead.

Even without creating new items, it's very clear that you can add effects together for a +50% increase on the additional effects. Want to add the effects of a phylactery of faithfulness to your amulet of natural armor? +1,500 gp (instead of 1,000 gp). Now you have an amulet of natural armor that lets you know when you're going to fall (this item is the anti-jerk GM for Paladins).

But people refuse to take what the system gives them, and only go with stock items in stock slots. It barely matters what the rules for stacking magic items are, since nobody ever uses magic items with similar effects that aren't in the same slot as everybody else's. I mean, in previous editions, a cloak of protection granted a bonus to AC and saving throws. A ring or protection did the same thing. They didn't stack though. They wouldn't stack today, even though you rebuild both item as they were in pre-3E easily. So some might be wearing a Ring of Protection that gives +2 to both AC and saving throws, while someone else is wearing a cloak of protection that gives +3 to AC and saving throws, but you don't have to worry about them stacking; so why does it matter if the same effect is in a different slot?


MaxAstro wrote:

My party has somewhat subverted this by having a clever and extremely skilled crafter. They have the Big 6 items, but most of them have secondary items "tacked on" (ex: Cloak of Resistance that also functions as a Cloak of Elvenkind, or the ever-popular "Circlet of Persuasion and Also +4 Charisma" xD ).

Now, the ability of a highly skilled crafter to effectively double the PC's money (especially when said crafter sleeps in a Rope Trick and uses Shrink Item and similar tricks to carry all their crafting supplies around) is an entirely different can of worms that I am currently dealing with. :)

A fun fact. Since adding new effects to items has a 50% markup, it's a good way to diminish perceived problems with item crafting providing double WBL. I mean, if we're adding lots of abilities onto our items, then our WBL increase slows down, because much of it goes towards the "for fun" abilities like being able to turn into a mermaid underwater.


Pathfinder Roleplaying Game Subscriber

The items taking up slots is not the main issue people have with the Big Six. The main issue is how little gp they have to spend on non-Big Six items. Adding more abilities to items just makes the problem worse in most cases.


Pathfinder Adventure Path, Campaign Setting, Companion, Roleplaying Game Subscriber

Since the mathamancy of the game primarily revolves around combat, things without bonuses to combat can probably be ignored in WBL guidelines, with some discretion, of course. But then GM's discretion is why you're spending your time playing with pen and paper and not an MMORPG.


My party just got over a million GP windfall at level 7. We've got 6 people and it came out to about 315,000 gp per player. Me playing the rogue has story reasons for getting a few of the items of the big 6. Though, I also got a ring of chameleon power, vest of escape, etc and overall not only does he feel more powerful ability wise but also skill wise and appears to be more true to his niche (stealth with disable device). I didn't feel any particular trouble or hindrance when buying items. Some items purchased weren't "rogueish" at all but they have a reason why the character wants them. Though, I did ponder those mule back cords and just opted for a bag of holding instead because I wanted to keep my cloak of resistance +4.

Shadow Lodge

Ravingdork wrote:
Buri wrote:
What are these "big six" items? I've seen them refereed to but have never seen them listed.
I would like to know this as well, since I've seen variations of the big six being listed all with the same title of "the big six."

I'm not sure I've ever seen a list of "The Big Six" that is exactly the same twice. :P


Here's the original list.


Pathfinder Adventure Path, Card Game, Maps, Roleplaying Game, Tales Subscriber

Do the APs and modules assume that the characters are maxing out the big six at most opportunities?

I'm reading some of the nid to high level adventures and the groups I'm GMing look like they would get stomped in one or two encoutners because they don't have the Big Six all the time.


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Thanks for the new thread, Evil Abe. Appreciate it so we're not diverting the other thread.

While I like 3rd edition, I think allowing PCs to choose their own magic items is a big mistake. 4E made it worse too. Sure I was indulging in hyperbole, but it annoys me no end that these bonuses are baked into the maths and pretty much force you to have certain items at certain levels to keep up with the maths.

This means:

a) it's hard to run a low magic or no magic game
b) magic becomes mundane, and it's not special any more
c) Xmas tree effect, where the characters simply have too many items

I prefer my games to feel like fantasy novels or movies, not videogames where you get sacks of vendor trash in every session. I like Diablo, but I don't want its economy in my D&D, thanks.

I've never seen a solution that works properly. And I wonder if this kind of book shouldn't make some sort of attempt to do just that.

My worry was that the new magic item book will have loads of stuff nobody ever uses because they just want the items with the dull little bonuses that help you keep up with the math.

The new 'D&D Next' or whatever it will be called has specified it will not do this, that magic items will always give you a benefit over what is 'expected'. And that's the ONE thing that might lure me away from PF.


Evil Lincoln wrote:
Let me also add that I have no intention of "winning" this discussion or making anyone else look foolish.

Of course. I very much appreciate your willingness to debate. The Pathfinder Boards seem by and large, a very constructive and sensible forum. Unlike some other boards I could mention.

Andoran

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Pathfinder Companion Subscriber

I have a tendency to throw mixed bags of goods to my party and limit the availability things like "the Big 6" to whatevers mixed in with the other loot. Parties with characters who've invested into crafting end up being somewhat more optimized, but there's very few challenges in the Bestiary that require you to have your big 6 just to survive. I find the idea of the "magic shop" a little silly and immersion breaking, with the exception of those campaigns and locations where it makes sense.

Fortunately I'm blessed (by and large) with players who appreciate having cool tricks up their sleeves a little bit more than a slew of static bonuses, so I rarely get complaints if they don't have their full allotment of what many think of as "mandatory" items. As far as the math being geared in this system to those items being requirements to have a decent character, my experiences have never borne that particular theory out. I've run low magic campaigns where the only adjustment I made was severely limiting the availability of magic items without any counter-balances and not had any problems. The difficulty gets up-ticked a bit, but players are adaptive and I find this system to be extremely flexible. I came over to Pathfinder after playing 4E for a couple years, and that system is one where your need to acquire magic items is truly hardwired into your characters. PF by contrast is 100 times more flexible with loot acquistion and the necessity of any given item.


And oh, I'm very much looking forward to the new Iconics/NPC book to see it they have cool items, or the ones with the dull little necessary bonuses.


Anlerran wrote:

Thanks for the new thread, Evil Abe. Appreciate it so we're not diverting the other thread.

While I like 3rd edition, I think allowing PCs to choose their own magic items is a big mistake. 4E made it worse too. Sure I was indulging in hyperbole, but it annoys me no end that these bonuses are baked into the maths and pretty much force you to have certain items at certain levels to keep up with the maths.

This means:

a) it's hard to run a low magic or no magic game
b) magic becomes mundane, and it's not special any more
c) Xmas tree effect, where the characters simply have too many items

I prefer my games to feel like fantasy novels or movies, not videogames where you get sacks of vendor trash in every session. I like Diablo, but I don't want its economy in my D&D, thanks.

I've never seen a solution that works properly. And I wonder if this kind of book shouldn't make some sort of attempt to do just that.

My worry was that the new magic item book will have loads of stuff nobody ever uses because they just want the items with the dull little bonuses that help you keep up with the math.

The new 'D&D Next' or whatever it will be called has specified it will not do this, that magic items will always give you a benefit over what is 'expected'. And that's the ONE thing that might lure me away from PF.

I treat it as a yard stick, which means running a low-magic campaign is a matter of using the WBL table to see how far below the benchmark they are. I award the treasure I feel like awarding (in my homebrew campaigns, this is usually 2 or 3 WBLs less than when I run an AP) to achieve low magic. The WBL table just gives me a clear picture of whether the APL of an impoverished 6th level part is actually 6 when those trolls come around, or is it more like 3 or 4.

I think if you take WBL as proscriptive rather than descriptive (and that seems to me what you are doing), then it would seem to be a prohibition on low magic.

Obviously the situation is very different for organized play, in this and many other things. Abstract wealth there is a necessary evil.

Grand Lodge RPG Superstar 2012 Top 32

Wait a minute...

I keep hearing people say that by the time you hid mid-to-high levels, armor class stops mattering. So why are one-third of the Big Six just AC-boosters?


Pathfinder Adventure Path, Campaign Setting, Companion, Roleplaying Game Subscriber

Hmm, since the 'Big Six' discussion was moved here, I guess I'll move the mention of the my attempt at a System that replaces some of the Big Six with scaling bonuses here. Though, I guess I made the thing so thick with text that I'm just scaring everyone away, lol.

Yea, my basic opinion is that if players are going to practically required to have these items, then why not just add their bonuses to the list of things that the players receive automatically when they gain levels? This way you can give players *fun* magic items instead.

The only issue is figuring out the proper rate to hand out these bonuses at...

Shadow Lodge

Jiggy wrote:

Wait a minute...

I keep hearing people say that by the time you hid mid-to-high levels, armor class stops mattering. So why are one-third of the Big Six just AC-boosters?

I've only heard that for casters.


Pathfinder Adventure Path Charter Subscriber; Pathfinder Campaign Setting, Companion, Modules, Roleplaying Game Subscriber

I'm pretty sure that Ben Durbin debunked the Big Six in the first chapter of Trailblazer. I'm on my way out the door to work, but once I can get there I pull out the relevant material if anyone is interested.


Sure.


Azazyll wrote:
Since the mathamancy of the game primarily revolves around combat, things without bonuses to combat can probably be ignored in WBL guidelines, with some discretion, of course. But then GM's discretion is why you're spending your time playing with pen and paper and not an MMORPG.

If a character can sell and build items for half price, can you give players wondrous items or does every bit of treasure just get transformed into something optimal.


Orthos wrote:
Jiggy wrote:

Wait a minute...

I keep hearing people say that by the time you hid mid-to-high levels, armor class stops mattering. So why are one-third of the Big Six just AC-boosters?

I've only heard that for casters.

I heard it from trailblazer as well.

There's some truth in it. Most single monsters at CR = APL pretty much always hit. If you're playing with balanced iterative attacks like Trailblazer does, then HP are markedly better for defense than AC. In Pathfinder, however, subsequent attacks decay, so a higher AC will help against crits from decaying attacks. It is less good, but still important.

For casters, AC is mainly what you use to hang on to all those mirror images, right? Not like it's hard for casters to achieve decent AC.


Azazyll wrote:
Since the mathamancy of the game primarily revolves around combat, things without bonuses to combat can probably be ignored in WBL guidelines, with some discretion, of course. But then GM's discretion is why you're spending your time playing with pen and paper and not an MMORPG.

Hoo. There's a thought. Does WBL matter for anything besides CR calculations, and does non-combat gear matter for those calculations?

CR is an imperfect beast. It is also missing the relative number of actions, which is a huge factor in combat.


Letting aside the homebrew magic items, there one big magic item that i think is extra important in 3.5/path. The cloack of resistance.

Fithers, rogue, wizards, sorcerers, cavaliers, witches, oracles have only one good save and it is not like they would have high enough stats to help with all the saves.

Gunslingers and ranger have good fort and ref saves and probably a good wisdom score. But with all that a spell that target wisdom prbably will end a fight.

Bards have good saves, but wisdom is not a stat that many "optimizers" priorize, probably their will save will not be that impresive.

Monk have good saves all around, but are enough MAD so probably none of the saves are that high.

Clerci and druids probably will have good saves with their high wisdom. Probably only ref will sucks. They can live just fine without the cloack.

the paladin class is the only one that really do not need the cloack, but certainly they another of the Big six, a headband for increase their cha score.


I buy the big 6 when creating characters at higher levels to aviod having to shop more because they are always useful.


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Andy Collins wrote:

The “Big Six”:

Magic weapon
Magic armor & shield
Ring of protection
Cloak of resistance
Amulet of natural armor
Ability-score boosters
My complaint about the "big six" isn't based on there being specific slots or items, but about boring bonuses. Sadly, in most cases the simple mathematical bonus is more versatile and more powerful, but what is more fun to get:
  • Flaming Sword or Sword +1
  • Ring of the Ram or Ring of Protection +2
  • Folding Plate Armor or Plate Armor +1

Here's my "bad list"

  • +x bonuses to armor, shield, ring of protection, amulet of natural armor
  • +x bonuses to attributes
  • +x bonuses to saving throws
  • +x bonuses to weapon

My rephrasing of the problem would be, "The Tyranny of Boring but Effective Bonuses".


I think a lot of the problem of magic items being boring is one of price.

If flight was 8000, you wouldn't see a whole lot of +2 swords anymore.

Given the big gripe about the game that martial classes have no way of engaging invisible flying teleporting enemies, I don't see what the big deal would be.


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The "big six" is so prevalent in RPGs (not just Pathfinder) that 4e essentially built the concepts into their magic item system. Magic items are more or less big six items with other properties, encounter and/or daily powers. In general the +5 magic weapon is like a generic weapon. There are dozens, hundreds of variations of the +5 magic weapon. The same goes for non-AC defensive neck slot items or armor. For example, my 4e ranger has magic armor that allows him to fly for one turn per day, a neck slot item that allows him to teleport up to his speed once per day and a magic weapon that extends his crit range. Nobody has a simple +X weapon, armor or neck item.

That at least provides some variation in the game without running the price up exponentially. A +5 flaming weapon might be 5% more gold than a basic +5 weapon.

This is one of the main things I'd love to see fixed in Pathfinder. Roll the "big six" bonuses into an entire category of unique and conceptually beneficial magic items such that players can choose something cool and the expected level appropriate bonus is basically just baked right in.


Pathfinder Adventure Path, Campaign Setting, Companion, Roleplaying Game Subscriber
Matrixryu wrote:
The only issue is figuring out the proper rate to hand out these bonuses at...

I think that may miss some of the point. Magic items are one of the primary ways to really customize your character. They are particularly important in customizing the math behind the game for your character. Feats and class abilities rarely add much of a bonus, and are extremely limited resources which, once chosen, are basically set in stone (unless your GM is rather forgiving).

So saying "everyone gets a +1 enhancement bonus to armor at 4th level, everyone gets a +1 enhancement bonus to hit at 5th level" will severely homogenize characters, and limit their adaptability in game. What if a player want to put all his eggs in one basket and have only one magic item, but it's a really good weapon? Their damage output will be great, balanced by weaker defenses. If that's their choice, they should have it. On the other hand, if that turns out to be a problem, for any number of reasons, that can easily by switched by finding an in-game reason to switch equipment.

This is one of the strengths of Pathfinder, and D&D generally. It is only a weakness if you want it to be. LET ME EMPHASIZE THIS LAST POINT: Low magic can just be explained as superior craftsmanship for all of the pure math bonuses - call them whatever you want, just take out the magic elements and leave the bonuses.


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Pathfinder Battles Case Subscriber; Pathfinder Roleplaying Game Subscriber

+1 to Blueluck's post.

The problem with most of the so-called Big Six is that they totally 'disappear' once you have them, subsumed into the bonuses on your character sheet. Most of the time, you never even remember that you have a cloak of resistance or ring of protection until you find another item that takes the same slot. And it just seems wrong that a magic item that costs thousands of gold is so darn forgettable.

Abilities that are active -- that are under your control or that pop up and do something in certain situations -- are intrisically more fun than abilities that are passive, just always on until they blend into the background like white noise.

And I agree that a lot of the fun, quirky magic items are overpriced. There's all kinds of stuff on the wondrous item list that would be fun to have and play around with creative uses for, but who can afford to spend 3400 gp on a bag of tricks, gray until you're well past the level that you even need to be thinking about creative uses for a bat or a riding dog?


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Isn't Trailblazer a different game system?

The math does not support low magic for Pathfinder.

Saving throws for Ex and Su abilities scale as HD/2+stat. Top level spells (the ones that NPCs always have because they're more accustomed to a 15 round day than 15 minute) scale at HD/2+stat as well for full casters and even round up instead of down for prepared casters.
Slow saves scale as HD/3 + stat. You need a level/6 bonus item just to not lose ground. Between fortitude Save or Die and will Save or Slave spells most classes cannot expect to survive without a scaling bonus to saves.

AC doesn't scale at all while BAB scales at full HD for the most dangerous makers of attack rolls. To keep up a character needs +20 in AC boosters by level 20. Armor+shield+deflection+natural armor, all capping at +5. Most of the natural attack users have BAB at 3/4 HD, but that still makes 3/4 of magic armor, magic shield, ring of protection, and amulet of natural armor required items to keep up.


Pathfinder Adventure Path, Campaign Setting, Companion, Roleplaying Game Subscriber
Azazyll wrote:
Matrixryu wrote:
The only issue is figuring out the proper rate to hand out these bonuses at...

I think that may miss some of the point. Magic items are one of the primary ways to really customize your character. They are particularly important in customizing the math behind the game for your character. Feats and class abilities rarely add much of a bonus, and are extremely limited resources which, once chosen, are basically set in stone (unless your GM is rather forgiving).

So saying "everyone gets a +1 enhancement bonus to armor at 4th level, everyone gets a +1 enhancement bonus to hit at 5th level" will severely homogenize characters, and limit their adaptability in game. What if a player want to put all his eggs in one basket and have only one magic item, but it's a really good weapon? Their damage output will be great, balanced by weaker defenses. If that's their choice, they should have it. On the other hand, if that turns out to be a problem, for any number of reasons, that can easily by switched by finding an in-game reason to switch equipment.

This is one of the strengths of Pathfinder, and D&D generally. It is only a weakness if you want it to be. LET ME EMPHASIZE THIS LAST POINT: Low magic can just be explained as superior craftsmanship for all of the pure math bonuses - call them whatever you want, just take out the magic elements and leave the bonuses.

Yea, that is one of my worries about making these things into linear scaling bonuses. This is why I'm currently leaving Magic Weapons and Armor out of the 'automatic bonuses' list. I know that players like to customize those things and may want to put significant amounts of wealth into them, or maybe even ignore one altogether.

Currently, my idea only replaces the following: Ring of Protection, Amulet of Natural Armor, Cloak of Resistance, and the Ability Score Boosters. Do you think that lowers the restrictiveness enough, or do you think it is still a problem?


Pathfinder Adventure Path, Campaign Setting, Companion, Roleplaying Game Subscriber

It should also be noted that the math breakdown was done by James Wyatt in Book of Exalted Deeds (p29) for 3.5 with the Vow of Poverty feat. It's far from perfect, and it takes a number of other abilities into account, but it was a very interesting approach to a no-gear PC.


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Cheapy wrote:
The items taking up slots is not the main issue people have with the Big Six. The main issue is how little gp they have to spend on non-Big Six items. Adding more abilities to items just makes the problem worse in most cases.

Then play high fantasy then, or enjoy the fact that you have the option to take item creation feats and be proactive in your success, rather than waiting for the gods (or the GM) to rain magic items and treasure down upon you.

Personally, I don't have a problem fitting useful magic items into the mix with my characters and the groups I play with use standard everything (medium XP/treasure/NPC gear, 15 point buy). Most of my characters are loaded with all sorts of trinkets and such, and I generally upgrade defensive items as it becomes acceptable to do so. Heck, the treasure values of encounters are actually high enough to give you a nice pool of money to spend on extras or consumables as you go.

Jiggy wrote:

Wait a minute...

I keep hearing people say that by the time you hid mid-to-high levels, armor class stops mattering. So why are one-third of the Big Six just AC-boosters?

ABOUT ARMOR CLASS

That's because AC never becomes irrelevant for most classes. Some specific classes and builds can go without it, or get around it with other methods, but even a wizard can hit an AC 40 without trouble at 20th level, which is enough to make a creature with a +30 to hit miss than 45% of the time on their good attack. Martials can easily get ACs in the 50s before applying stuff like Combat Expertise, which is practically immunization vs physical attacks that aren't using true-strike (even at 20th, a Fighter's high attack will be around +40, from 20 BAB, 10 Ability, 5 enhancement, 8 training/specializations), which means they will hit with 1-3 attacks per round in most cases (each iterative attack is at -25% chance to hit from the main).

The only time AC is irrelevant is if you're not pushing it with items. Take away even one of those big six items and you went from mini-fortress to punching bag. For example, let's assume that instead of a +5 armor, shield, deflection, and natural, you instead have +4 on all of those things. You just lost 20% evasion vs incoming attacks. Instead of having a 30% chance to evade your enemy's main attack, you now only have a 10% chance, and your enemy will connect with far more iterative attacks.

The moral of this story is you don't do things half way. Either you spec AC like you mean it, or you're wasting gold, because once your opponent has a 95% chance to hit you, having less AC is completely meaningless. If you were instead wearing +3 gear, you are now in auto-hit territory, and it wouldn't matter if you were wearing +3 gear or walking around in the nude with your dangley-bits fluttering in the wind. At this point, you instead will get way more mileage out of stacking miss %s, pumping damage reduction, or otherwise trying to marginalize the amount of pain you suffer with every incoming hit.

That being said, unless you're fighting heavily optimized enemies, most monsters in the CR 16-20 range tap out in to-hit bonuses pretty early compared to PC-classed characters with shiny toys. It's unlikely that you will encounter an enemy with ACs in the 50s (a pit fiend can do it, but only if it's armored, and then martials will have a +40 or better to hit them anyway, before the mages debuff the fiend). One of the highest ACs you see on stock monsters is AC 42 (a pit fiend using its at-will self buff to go from 38 to 42 AC). It's highest attack rolls are +32 pre buffs. That means that a martial character wearing only +4 gears can tank them without issue (you can still hit ACs in the high 40s instead of low 50s), and if you're smart, can even tank them in +3 gears without issue (though you may want some evasion %s or fight defensively for the +3 dodge AC).

Anlerran wrote:

Thanks for the new thread, Evil Abe. Appreciate it so we're not diverting the other thread.

While I like 3rd edition, I think allowing PCs to choose their own magic items is a big mistake. 4E made it worse too. Sure I was indulging in hyperbole, but it annoys me no end that these bonuses are baked into the maths and pretty much force you to have certain items at certain levels to keep up with the maths.

This means:

a) it's hard to run a low magic or no magic game
b) magic becomes mundane, and it's not special any more
c) Xmas tree effect, where the characters simply have too many items

No it really isn't. In a low or no magic game you realize that you're not in Kansas anymore Toto. You don't fight stuff like Pit Fiends in a low or no magic game. This is akin to complaining that comic books have too many superheroes, when you really want to read about some mundane person and his dealing with a local drug gang. It can be a cool story, but asking for Marty McMundane to deal with Apocolypse and Magneto is just not going to work. Asking for characters to be just as strong without powerful magic items as they are with powerful magic items is nonsensical, and frankly a bit silly.

Quote:
I prefer my games to feel like fantasy novels or movies, not videogames where you get sacks of vendor trash in every session. I like Diablo, but I don't want its economy in my D&D, thanks.

Fortunately Diablo's economy is nothing like D&D/Pathfinder's economy. It's not like a video game unless you make it so. You're attributing poor setup on the part of the game being ran to the system used to run it. It's a bit dishonest. Also, in fantasy novels and movies, it is not like D&D/Pathfinder. Greek legends depict Hercules defeating a Hydra as one of his epic achievements. In D&D, hydras are dismantled by relatively normal people.

If you want to run D&D like a fantasy novel, then for goodness sakes do so. If you want magic items to be fewer and more special, then make your own. Baldur's Gate (PC game, not BG:DA for consoles) made magic items special. You found relatively few of them compared to normal. Instead of just +X items, you had stuff like a +1 spider bane sword that grants continuous freedom of movement on the wielder. Instead of using lots of weak items, just make the good stuff few and far between, but make the good stuff damn good stuff. You could outfit an entire PC on like 3-5 items by 20th level using this design philosophy. But that's your fault, not the system's. The system gives you all the tools you need and gives you the default recommendations for the game. Just because what you desire is not the default assumption doesn't mean the system can't hack it, or is somehow flawed.

Likewise, in a low or no magic game, you have to make some considerations. Don't be throwing around lots of enemies with magic and such in a game that is low to no magic. That's just simple fairness. If there are no magic weapons, then add another +1 CR to anything that has DR/magic, because they have a significant tactical advantage beyond the normal assumptions for the game. You might need to do a little work to get it just right, but it's not like it's a lot of work or even hard.


Pathfinder Adventure Path, Campaign Setting, Companion, Roleplaying Game Subscriber
Matrixryu wrote:
Azazyll wrote:
Matrixryu wrote:
The only issue is figuring out the proper rate to hand out these bonuses at...

I think that may miss some of the point. Magic items are one of the primary ways to really customize your character. They are particularly important in customizing the math behind the game for your character. Feats and class abilities rarely add much of a bonus, and are extremely limited resources which, once chosen, are basically set in stone (unless your GM is rather forgiving).

So saying "everyone gets a +1 enhancement bonus to armor at 4th level, everyone gets a +1 enhancement bonus to hit at 5th level" will severely homogenize characters, and limit their adaptability in game. What if a player want to put all his eggs in one basket and have only one magic item, but it's a really good weapon? Their damage output will be great, balanced by weaker defenses. If that's their choice, they should have it. On the other hand, if that turns out to be a problem, for any number of reasons, that can easily by switched by finding an in-game reason to switch equipment.

This is one of the strengths of Pathfinder, and D&D generally. It is only a weakness if you want it to be. LET ME EMPHASIZE THIS LAST POINT: Low magic can just be explained as superior craftsmanship for all of the pure math bonuses - call them whatever you want, just take out the magic elements and leave the bonuses.

Yea, that is one of my worries about making these things into linear scaling bonuses. This is why I'm currently leaving Magic Weapons and Armor out of the 'automatic bonuses' list. I know that players like to customize those things and may want to put significant amounts of wealth into them, or maybe even ignore one altogether.

Currently, my idea only replaces the following: Ring of Protection, Amulet of Natural Armor, Cloak of Resistance, and the Ability Score Boosters. Do you think that lowers the restrictiveness enough, or do you think it is still a problem?

I think it is a worthwhile project, and it seems to me that most people are going to be most concerned with the arms and armor rather than the more boring items you've accounted for there. There should also be a commensurate loss of a few item slots to compensate as well.

That said, however, in some ways arms and armor are the worst offenders. People could get a lot more tricks for their armor or weapons, especially the ones equivalent to a certain bonus (or be able to use specific arms and armor at a wider variety of levels) if those numbers were coming from some mathematical progression. It's a conundrum.

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