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Zero Items Game?


Suggestions/House Rules/Homebrew


How badly would simply saying all non-plot device enchanted items don't exist effect the games balance? Would it worsen the power advantage of the caster classes?


The game is balanced with the idea that magic items are available, and also that with higher levels better items can be had. Take away items and the game would need a major re-balance.

Grand Lodge

On a scale of 1-10...11

No seriously, major system rewrite is needed if you wanted to do something like this.

Oh and the caster disparity would go through the roof.


magic items help lessen the whole "casties iz da best" (at least those which AM BARBARIAN allows to live, which is precious, precious few) thing.


Pathfinder Companion Subscriber

Totally depends on the plot-device items.


So it would mostly work in a low magic game in general, maybe without casters, and with the enemies very, VERY carefully selected and powered down so that your players could even hit it.

Think about it, incorporeals are downright horrifying without a good ghost touch for melee characters. Casters could still cast magic missile and get by fine though....I've already seen a thread or two about GM's despairing about the shadowdancer's summon shadow. Without anyone with magic or magic weapons, they can go through entire keeps without much resistance.

Sure, you could get by some of the problems such as these by having casters cast spells onto the weapons at the start of every battle, but your caster would spend a few minutes every time when a rampaging monster is charging at them, or you'd need multiple casters all applying themselves to the same task. And over all there are better uses for all that action economy either way.


What about for an E6 game?


Nepherti wrote:
What about for an E6 game?

Probably doable - you're looking at removing about a +1 to hit (magic weapon) and a +1 or +2 AC (magic armor and shield or bracers and ring) from the PCs at 6th level.


Pathfinder Companion Subscriber

You could use Legacy items.


This approach does next to nothing to affect the balance of the game between the party and the enemies - which I will explain below - but it could alter the balance between party members, which some groups care a great deal about.

Party vs. Enemy balance: The only thing you have to watch out for is what type of enemies you pick out for the party. It has to be carefully weighed against their actual abilities - no sending in monsters with DR/magic if the party doesn't have a caster to imbue them with magic weapon spells, because that DR ability's likelyhood of being bypassed by typical equipment of a party of that level is part of what sets the monster at the CR it has listed.

So all you have to do is avoid too liberal use of monsters with DR that isn't material or damage type based, or make sure that the appropriate spell(s) to cover the gap are in supply for the party in one way or another.

Party vs. Party balance: the non-spellcasters vs. spellcasters isn't the issue - both are still needed in the party for the party to work well as a whole. The "problem" is that spells become the only way to get certain things done unless you avoid certain types of challenges that lead to that result - such as the above DR/magic issue - and that certain spells become much more useful that they normally are... the biggest examples being any spells that do the things items previously did for the characters.

In my experience, the biggest effect of running games in this way is that spellcasters focus more heavily on preparing utility and defense spells, rather than offensive spells.

Especially when there are no such thing as wands, scrolls, or potions.

Shadow Lodge

Classes with magic would a whole lot more powerful than classes without it. Period. There's just no way around it. Even if you totally removed casters, classes with powerful supernatural and spell-like abilities would become a whole lot stronger. Even if you cut out extracts, I'm thinking alchemists would still dominate the field.


Early Supernatural (TV series)?


As suggested by Nepherti, it depends on your definition of "the game" and your expectations of it.

At level 15 through 20, chances are that the proposed changes will have a more profound impact than at level 1 through 5.

And while it will advantage casters (who do not rely on items to perform "extraordinary" things), my opinion is that it won't break the game. It will however, make it a different game from RaW, for sure.

As with removing or restricting magic altogether, the d20 remains a powerful and modular system. You do not rely on a magical items to make an attack roll. However you do rely on magical gear to be "on par" with the CR system, so some adjustment on your choice of opponents will be in order. As mentioned above, you should be aware that incorporeal creatures become next to invulnerable.

It will also emphasize some aspect of adventuring that might have not been a big deal otherwise: stuff is heavy/cumbersome to carry without handy haversacks, DR is hard to bypass without magic weapons, characters must rely more on their skills without slippers of climbing and boots of flying etc. If this sounds fun for your players, you may be on to something. Otherwise you may face disappointed and frustrated players..

As for the "big 6", all they do is add to numbers. If you remove them equally for everyone, the impact is lower (less need for high saves if spell DCs are lower in the first place, etc).

Published adventures will have to reworked to remove items from NPCs, which is a considerable amount of work. If you're homebrewing, its less big of a deal (actually it makes your job easier...)

tl;dr: It will play different from RaW, and difference will be more severe as you go up in levels, but it will not necessarily make it a bad game.

Give it a try and give us feedback!

'findel


Hmm.... it is true that magic has versatility on its side. I guess if you had to go with something like this, maybe reduce their damage capabilities to be more in line with the nerfed warriors?

There are a lot of roles that magic users should play other than a sheer blasting. Buffs and debuffs, and battlefield control, for example. Not to mention utility spells like flight, or even a couple of simple cantrips to remotely activate and disarm traps. There are a large number of spells that would balance this by making casters "extremely useful" rather than "angry gods". If you avoid E6 that is.


lemeres wrote:
Hmm.... it is true that magic has versatility on its side. I guess if you had to go with something like this, maybe reduce their damage capabilities to be more in line with the nerfed warriors?

Without staves, wands and scrolls, casters will be much more relying on their own spell slots, which will run preciously low pretty quick. Balance between blasting, buffing and utility will be much more precarious until they have spell slots to spare. Casters will remain the characters with the most tools, but I wouldn't call them champions without serious playtesting

'findel


there's a set of suggested rules in this forum that deals with rolling basic ability adjusting gear into the characters level progression so that you could remove them. It definitely gives the game a more player driven feel without having to alter the CR system.... let me look for it.


Trogdar wrote:
there's a set of suggested rules in this forum that deals with rolling basic ability adjusting gear into the characters level progression so that you could remove them. It definitely gives the game a more player driven feel without having to alter the CR system.... let me look for it.

This one perhaps? There has been a few over the years.

While i really like Kolokotroni's heroic distinctions, they mainly fix the "big six" dependency. Lack of items such as handy haversack, boots of flying and brooch of shielding are not covered by his houserule.


yeah, that's the one. It certainly doesn't remove the usefulness of magic, but it makes the DM's job easier because he doesn't have to do mental gymnastics to scale encounter CR.


Laurefindel wrote:
As for the "big 6", all they do is add to numbers. If you remove them equally for everyone, the impact is lower (less need for high saves if spell DCs are lower in the first place, etc).

Not exactly.

Stat boosters go up more slowly than resistance bonuses to partially offset the fact that slow saves go up more slowly than saving throws. People are going to fail saves more.

AC goes up from at 3 or 4 items while attack rolls only go up from one to offset the fact that BAB goes up while that 10 base AC doesn't. People will get hit more and defenses other than miss chance and DR will rapidly become completely useless.

Monsters tend to not have items to take away, yet are balanced against item equipped PCs.


Trogdar wrote:
yeah, that's the one. It certainly doesn't remove the usefulness of magic, but it makes the DM's job easier because he doesn't have to do mental gymnastics to scale encounter CR.

True, and that alone is significant!

Atarlost wrote:


Stat boosters go up more slowly than resistance bonuses (...) People are going to fail saves more.

AC goes up from at 3 or 4 items while attack rolls only go up from one (...) People will get hit more.

Monsters tend to not have items to take away, yet are balanced against item equipped PCs.

True, I'll give you that much.

Yes, we can expect characters to fail more saves.
Characters will also get hit more, but will less damage per hit.
As for monsters, their power progresses more of less linearly with their HD and CR. Select monsters with slightly less HD ( and a lower CR) and things remain balanced.
So most of these drops are/can be mitigated, but it would be a mistake to say that the game would play exactly the same (especially as the PCs reach higher levels.) Nevertheless, I still stand by the though that it will still remain a solid and enjoyable game.

Shadow Lodge

Laurefindel wrote:
It will also emphasize some aspect of adventuring that might have not been a big deal otherwise: stuff is heavy/cumbersome to carry without handy haversacks, DR is hard to bypass without magic weapons, characters must rely more on their skills without slippers of climbing and boots of flying etc. If this sounds fun for your players, you may be on to something. Otherwise you may face disappointed and frustrated players.

Yeah, you'd need to keep a careful eye on the kind of obstacles that parties would normally bypass with magic. Many of the missing items can be duplicated by spells, but with spells suddenly expected to pull the weight of the missing items those spell slots just became a lot more valuable. An obstacle that the entire party could have just spider climbed or flew over in a game with magic items could now require that they break out (heavy, encumbering) ropes and climbing kits. And the lack of scrolls will be felt heavily in the area of "just in case" spells. Suddenly either your cleric needs to prepare Remove Paralysis or do without. Prepared casters will likely make heavy use of the ability to leave spell slots open for utility spells and prepare them as needed - spontaneous casters will more keenly feel the limited spell list.

Abilities that allow a PC to add magic enhancement bonuses to an item (Paladin's weapon bond, Magus Arcane Pool) will probably be more important.

Certain class features will need revising. For example, Wizards' bonus Scribe Scroll feat should be replaced, and any abilities that rely on magic items become useless (Scrollmaster archetype, Songhealer Enhance Healing, Staff Magus Staff Weapon.).

The wizard's bonded object becomes problematic - do you prevent him from enhancing it, thus removing half the benefit of the feature, or allow him to gain an otherwise unobtainable magic item? Bladebound Magus might need to be revised or banned for the same reason.

Classes with partial spellcasting might be more attractive since they don't have to fight over the primary caster's limited buffs. Paladins can cast their own Magic Weapon.

Mystic Theurge might get a power boost because their spell slots will go farther.


Cold Napalm wrote:

On a scale of 1-10...11

No seriously, major system rewrite is needed if you wanted to do something like this.
Oh and the caster disparity would go through the roof.

Correct.

Nepherti wrote:
What about for an E6 game?

This is the major rewrite to go with, or at least a jump-off point for you to customize. Don't forget you also have to eliminate item creation feats.


* Casters could have more needs to be protected by other characters.

* Maybe modify the Exp system a bit (what give XP and the like).


Tameknight wrote:
How badly would simply saying all non-plot device enchanted items don't exist effect the games balance? Would it worsen the power advantage of the caster classes?

First, it would become almost impossible for anything without magic or flying to kill a caster with flying. Fickle winds + Fly means that a fighter has very few ways to damage an enemy.

Second, wizards would become useless(no spellbook or scrolls), but sorcerers would be stronger. I imagine druids being particularly powerful in this world as well.

Monks would be better off simply because all other martial classes have been hurt more than they have.


It would hurt characters saving throws and ACs pretty badly. Also consider that most monsters don'r rely on magic items, so the powerful ones would have an upper hand.

I suppose you could scale up saves, ac and attack at a predetermined rate. Its hard to say how that would work in the long run though. I have a dozn ideas bouncing around my head right now, but they all have potential drawbacks.

Shadow Lodge

johnlocke90 wrote:
Second, wizards would become useless(no spellbook or scrolls), but sorcerers would be stronger. I imagine druids being particularly powerful in this world as well.

I was assuming that wizards' spellbooks didn't count as "magic items." If their spellbooks work normally I think wizards would be better than sorcerers in this world because their versatility would be valued where you can't just whip out a scroll to cast a spell that isn't on your "known" list.

I agree that druids would get a power boost for the same reason as monks - they can be less gear-dependent. Normally druids have to spend a chunk of extra gold on Amulets of Mighty Fists and Wild armour to boost their attacks and defense in Wild Shape. If no one gets magic items, suddenly losing access to weapons, armour, and activated magic items in Wild Shape isn't a problem.


Dragons, Magical Beasts, Monstrous Humanoid, Ooze and Outsiders should be rarer, Fey and Undeads would probably be less common as well.


Weirdo wrote:
johnlocke90 wrote:
Second, wizards would become useless(no spellbook or scrolls), but sorcerers would be stronger. I imagine druids being particularly powerful in this world as well.

I was assuming that wizards' spellbooks didn't count as "magic items." If their spellbooks work normally I think wizards would be better than sorcerers in this world because their versatility would be valued where you can't just whip out a scroll to cast a spell that isn't on your "known" list.

I agree that druids would get a power boost for the same reason as monks - they can be less gear-dependent. Normally druids have to spend a chunk of extra gold on Amulets of Mighty Fists and Wild armour to boost their attacks and defense in Wild Shape. If no one gets magic items, suddenly losing access to weapons, armour, and activated magic items in Wild Shape isn't a problem.

In that case, yeah prepared casters would be amazing with all those spells you only need once a campaign. Additionally prepared casters would be able to do a ton of things that nobody else could.

For instance, if the party needed to go underwater for more than a few minutes, it would likely be impossible without a prepared caster.


I was thinking of changing fighters so they got 8 levels of weapon training and that armor training gives a direct bonus to AC. I was thinking of giving barbarians a manifested killing intent magic weapon and armor boost whilst there raging (+1 enhancement ever 3 levels stopping at +5), making sure all the magic classes got access to greater weapon and spell mantle. As well as possibly giving everyone natural armor as they level up (1 every 3 levels max 5). I would just get rid of the fickle wind spell as it makes an entire fighting style useless without even a save. I would change saves so that high saves increase with a 3/4 progression and secondary saves increase with a 1/2 progression so a fighter at level 20 would have a 15 base fortitude save and ten for his other saves.


no magic items... this kinda mean a 80 years old LvL 20 Wizard could be killed by a lucky LvL 1 character.


Belle Mythix wrote:

no magic items... this kinda mean a 80 years old LvL 20 Wizard could be killed by a lucky LvL 1 character.

If a level 20 wizard is caught entirely flat footed without any buffs or readied spells by a level 1 PC he deserves to die. Not that a level 1 pc could possibly do enough damage even on a critical to 1 hit a level 20 character.


Tameknight wrote:
Belle Mythix wrote:

no magic items... this kinda mean a 80 years old LvL 20 Wizard could be killed by a lucky LvL 1 character.

If a level 20 wizard is caught entirely flat footed without any buffs or readied spells by a level 1 PC he deserves to die. Not that a level 1 pc could possibly do enough damage even on a critical to 1 hit a level 20 character.

Con dropped to 7 at creation - 6 for aging = 1, a -5 modifier, meaning 1 HP per HD for the Wizard, without class bonus to HP nor Toughness, that wizard can only take 21 points of Damage... Max damage on a critical it with a Greatsword...


Well if you specifically set it up to make it work then yeah......

Cheliax

Belle Mythix wrote:
Tameknight wrote:
Belle Mythix wrote:

no magic items... this kinda mean a 80 years old LvL 20 Wizard could be killed by a lucky LvL 1 character.

If a level 20 wizard is caught entirely flat footed without any buffs or readied spells by a level 1 PC he deserves to die. Not that a level 1 pc could possibly do enough damage even on a critical to 1 hit a level 20 character.

Con dropped to 7 at creation - 6 for aging = 1, a -5 modifier, meaning 1 HP per HD for the Wizard, without class bonus to HP nor Toughness, that wizard can only take 21 points of Damage... Max damage on a critical it with a Greatsword...

You show me the person who made a character with 7 Con and didn't take Toughness and/or the Favored Class HP bonus, and I'll show you someone who probably can't come up with a good reason why that guy managed to live that long.

This is beyond the most inane argument I've ever heard, and it would never happen in any reasonable game. Mostly because said wizard would have been killed by a stiff breeze or a Japanese cold looooong before the level 1 character got to him.


Seranov wrote:
Belle Mythix wrote:

Con dropped to 7 at creation - 6 for aging = 1, a -5 modifier, meaning 1 HP per HD for the Wizard, without class bonus to HP nor Toughness, that wizard can only take 21 points of Damage... Max damage on a critical it with a Greatsword...

You show me the person who made a character with 7 Con and didn't take Toughness and/or the Favored Class HP bonus, and I'll show you someone who probably can't come up with a good reason why that guy managed to live that long.

This is beyond the most inane argument I've ever heard, and it would never happen in any reasonable game. Mostly because said wizard would have been killed by a stiff breeze or a Japanese cold looooong before the level 1 character got to him.

Alternatively, Con lowered by illness or poison.

Cheliax

Belle Mythix wrote:

Alternatively, Con lowered by illness or poison.

Now THAT is a more reasonable argument, but in this kind of game, spells and poisons like that are likely very rare, so of course they're going to be highly lethal.

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