Magic Item Slots 4e Design & Devl


4th Edition

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Wicht wrote:
Rambling Scribe wrote:


If I play 4E, I won't have that list.

You are absolutely right that you won't have that list. But won't you have some list?

Since there are slots to be filled there is going to be a natural desire to fill them and I would almost guarantee that some magic items are going to cost more and work better than other items.

Maybe, but the impression I get is that it will be more of a choice of what kind of effect do you want in that slot, rather than what is the next step up on the list. Right now i (and most of my group) ditch most of our cool-effect items and buy number-boosts. The variation mostly comes from what you want to boost most. Do I go AC boost or save boost?

We'll see when the books come out, but it looks to me like they've taken a step in the right direction on this one.

Scarab Sages

Two other things I noticed:

Shields no longer provide an Ac bonus. I'm not sure how I feel about this. On the one hand, it seems kind of idiotic - shields were made as protective devices. On the other hand, they did say that shields would provide special advantages, so I guess this is a wait and see thing. I wish they'd have given some examples, though.

The other thing is that it seemed to me that under the "Arms" slot you could have a shield, or armbands, or bracers, but not more than one of those items. This seems similar to what someone said earlier, about not being able to wear a cloak and amulet in the "Neck" slot. If I remember correctly, the old reasoning behind wearing no more than 2 magic rings was because any more than that and you'd get some kind of magical interference. I guess they are relying on the same explanation for this change. It'd be nice if they explained it though.

Dark Archive

GeraintElberion wrote:

I was really hoping that 4e's claim to ditch the christmas tree would mean that a player at level10 (which woudl be 4e level15) would be really excited if he had 4 magic items. I want players ot keep their magic items they had at level 4, not be waiting to trade-up.

There's nothing magical about making magic items mundane, which I was led to believe would be addressed; I was misled.

Or so it seems.

Furthermore, and that really concerns me, the PC in Logan's example is only 11th level. He has 19 more levels to go. And nobody can tell me that he won't aquire a big bunch of magic items during his advancement.

But maybe 4th edition has better and/or different pricing mechanics. The price rises exponential to the power increase of the item. That would mean even in high levels you have only a few really powerful items.
Of course this new pricing would also effect the ability of the PC to create magic items of a certain power level and could make creation feats (or howerver this will be called -rituals, whatever) in higher levels undesireable.

And lastly, Logan clearly states, that the mechanics are build with the expectation that the PCs have certain items in certain levels. That again must refelct on the average wealth of a PC and that reflects again on the price of the items in question (or they could simply say that magic items can not be sold, but that would be too dumb). To close the ring: Magic items must have a clearly stated price. And therefore PCs will want to buy these items (if available, but let's exclude DM fiat) and sell loot -and old, less powerful items.

I think that the only way to do away with the christmas tree effect is to exclude magic items from the build-in game mechanics. If there is no expectation that a fighter of x level has y armor, the DM could finetune how many items he hands out. To reflect the varying power-levels of Groups with none, some or many items there could be a "CR" mechanic. So a 15th level group without items would have a CR of 15. A group with some items would have CR 15+1=16 and a group with lots of items would have 15+3=18 (mind you, this is just an out of my head example, the math behind would be complex).
This would be an evolution from 3.5.
The step they have taken is not IMHO.


Tharen the Damned wrote:


Furthermore, and that really concerns me, the PC in Logan's example is only 11th level. He has 19 more levels to go. And nobody can tell me that he won't acquire a big bunch of magic items during his advancement.

But maybe 4th edition has better and/or different pricing mechanics. The price rises exponential to the power increase of the item. That would mean even in high levels you have only a few really powerful items.
Of course this new pricing would also effect the ability of the PC to create magic items of a certain power level and could make creation feats (or however this will be called -rituals, whatever) in higher levels undesirable.

<snip>

I think that the only way to do away with the christmas tree effect is to exclude magic items from the build-in game mechanics. If there is no expectation that a fighter of x level has y armor, the DM could fine-tune how many items he hands out. To reflect the varying power-levels of Groups with none, some or many items there could be a "CR" mechanic. So a 15th level group without items would have a CR...

I would love to see a high/mid/low fantasy option (I would probably immediately buy 4E if it was the case). But lets face it, it "splits the brand" to much for WotC to want to do it.


EileenProphetofIstus wrote:


I prefer to think of magic items in the sense of character attachment and roleplaying. "Wow, this magic item saved my life or has been with me since the early days of my first dungeon" as opposed to getting the biggest bonuses to make the most powerful character I can. That may be a part of D&D but not one that I prefer. I'm more character driven, not plusses and minuses driven. Each to his own though.
Burrito Al Pastor wrote:
Stormwind fallacy.

Note that EPoI's sentence begins with "I prefer" not "this is how I actually play." For all we know, she's as guilty as anyone of giving up a treasured Item that saved her life for a big, fat static bonus to her character's prime requisite. Nor is she advocating the virtue of her own preference, nor is she implying that those who do make the most powerful characters they can are not role-playing. She is (as her first two words will tell you) stating a preference. Logic cannot dictate preference, so your cry of "fallacy!" has no place here.

As for my own preferences, I hate the ring thing. I liked the level-based "chakra" mechanic from Incarnum, but I don't like it here. It limits my options. I don't like the "this slot does this" mechanic, either - then again, 3.5 has similar limits (scrolls always have spells, what spells make potions, etc.) which I handily ignore.

The Exchange

ArchLich wrote:

I would love to see a high/mid/low fantasy option (I would probably immediately buy 4E if it was the case). But lets face it, it "splits the brand" to much for WotC to want to do it.

Ditto. One facet of D&D that drives me away from the game periodically is the high fantasy elements. I once tried running a low fantasy/low magic campaign and the system was not up to the task. I ended up using WFRP and RuneQuest (non-mongoose) over the years instead.

It would be great if D&D could do what d20 Modern did and allow for the sliding tech scale.


crosswiredmind wrote:

One facet of D&D that drives me away from the game periodically is the high fantasy elements. I once tried running a low fantasy/low magic campaign and the system was not up to the task. I ended up using WFRP and RuneQuest (non-mongoose) over the years instead.

Interesting - it seems to me you'd just need to select the opposition more carefully and tweak treasures to go "low fantasy," but I've never tried it myself (and I must admit I'd probably go with HERO or pull out one of the old Historical References for 2e if I really wanted to)...

What about it didn't work?

The Exchange

CEBrown wrote:


Interesting - it seems to me you'd just need to select the opposition more carefully and tweak treasures to go "low fantasy," but I've never tried it myself (and I must admit I'd probably go with HERO or pull out one of the old Historical References for 2e if I really wanted to)...
What about it didn't work?

Well the main problems with adapting D&D to low fantasy for me were the following:

magical healing - there is a core assumption that magical healing will be plentiful and potent. This shows in the AC curve. A fighter's defenses to not increase at the same rate as their ability to hit and the damage they can dish out. The core assumption is that there will be a healing source available during combat.

arcane magic - arcane spells are encounter breakers and the game is written that way. The mechanics assume that there will be an arcane caster who will control the battle field. It also assumes that arcane artillery will be a part of mid to high level play.

magic items - the AC curve is low enough as it is. If you take out magic items then it becomes even more distorted. The same is true for the spellflingers. The only way to avoid running out of spells are wands, scrolls, and the like.

oversimplification of melee - complexity in D&D rests in the use and interaction of spells, spell effects and magic items. Melee, by contrast, is boiled down to hit AC and roll damage. There is no real active defense in D&D (no parry or dodge) and armor does not actually prevent damage - AC is all about the roll to hit. Because low fantasy is more about the relative skill of two combatants then it is about the magical effects that support the fighters, it leads to rather dull combats that involve little more than to hit and damage rolls. At that point rock/paper/scissors is just as interesting and useful a mechanic giving the person with more hit points some extra do overs.

dark vision - this is easier to solve but giving some critters dark vision can cause all kinds of problems. It should be rare at best. In RQ only trolls can see in the dark and people are justifiably afraid of them at night. But dark vision is just one example. I could have easily said supernatural and extraordinary abilities in general. A low fantasy setting would have a very small monster manual.

planes - anything that has to do with planes and their inhabitants can really cause huge problems in a low fantasy setting unless handled properly.

There are more but this gives you some idea of what I struggled with. It was easier to simply adopt a set of rules that were specifically written for low fantasy then it was to try and rework D&D.

The Exchange

I fear of retalatory flame strike, let it be known that I am going to try and stay with Edition 3.5 since it has what I need and I want to save money. But I think this a good way are trying to improve the game...

Timothy Mallory wrote:

I think what is being overlooked in all this ranting about power is that the only items that are expected to provide persistant enhancements are the core three slots: armor, weapon, neck.

Added to this are the new rules for multi-classing and level advancement. I think the synergy of these elements will help prevent abusive Min-Maxing. The 3.5 rules are SO FREE that you can create strange combinations that no one could have imagined in game design. Even if your players are 'conservative', magic items that stack from different magic types (armor, defense, natural, profane, etc.) make extreme characters a possibility.

I think most of us are experienced gamers and we are assuming we don't need help in maintaining a balanced game. When I was playing at 10 years old in the 70's, this would have been good way of handing magic. Now I know not to give away too much magic and not to make magic totally accessible, but I still screw up occasionally. And it is not just me. It is still a frequent thread topic about 'low magic' campaigns or rules sets such as Iron Heroes.

I feel this is a good example of a small step in the right direction to help improve the game. I also feel it is an example of a change they could have made to Edition 3.75 instead of revamping the whole system. For me, I am going to use this stuff as food for thougth for House Rules and how to maintain magic. And if I ever use 4th Edition, I can always allow Rings of Feather Fall useable at all levels. I mean does anyone not have House Rules?

And finally reference Low/Medium/High magic. In 4th Edition, if you only allow use of some slots you can now create a medium or even low level magic campaign. For example, in 4th Edition you only allow use of the three permanent item slots (Weapon, Armor and Neck) you have just made a Medium Level magic campaign.

Dark Archive

Infamous Jum wrote:
Tobus Neth wrote:
One of our goals in 4th Edition was to reduce characters’ reliance on magic items. ... If you’re 9th level, we expect you to have a set of +2 armor, and the challenges in the game at that level are balanced accordingly.
Hmm. Well, it sounds like you're still reliant on magic items. And that list of item his gnome has? It's beginning to look a lot like Christmas...

I agree. Showing a character this decked out in magic items isn't the best way to illustrate the "elimination" of the "Christmas tree" effect. He's not completely dripping with magic items, but he's got as much or more than an 11th level 3.5 character would have. The only thing missing is potions, scrolls, and wands.

Dark Archive

crosswiredmind wrote:
It would be great if D&D could do what d20 Modern did and allow for the sliding tech scale.

One system, able to handle a whole range of 'fantasy' from Iron Heroes / Conan of Cimmeria to Forgotten Realms / Eberron styles of play? That sounds pretty neat.

Cory Stafford 29 wrote:
Showing a character this decked out in magic items isn't the best way to illustrate the "elimination" of the "Christmas tree" effect. He's not completely dripping with magic items, but he's got as much or more than an 11th level 3.5 character would have. The only thing missing is potions, scrolls, and wands.

And I will bet 200 quatloo that he *has* potions, scrolls and / or wands, and they didn't bother to list expendable or one-shot items (which generally don't take up body slots anyways).


crosswiredmind wrote:


oversimplification of melee - complexity in D&D rests in the use and interaction of spells, spell effects and magic items. Melee, by contrast, is boiled down to hit AC and roll damage. There is no real active defense in D&D (no parry or dodge) and armor does not actually prevent damage - AC is all about the roll to hit. Because low fantasy is more about the relative skill of two combatants then it is about the magical effects that support the fighters, it leads to rather dull combats that involve little more than to hit and damage rolls. At that point rock/paper/scissors is just as interesting and useful a mechanic giving the person with more hit points some extra do overs.

You are spot on. Strangely, this is the reason I like the AC/HP system because it is very glossed over and easy to predict and adjust on the fly. It also relies heavily on DM description (you missed, you hit but didn't penetrate, your sword was magically turned away, he dodged, you were parried/blocked etc...) to make sense. It is not a good system for a game where swordplay takes center stage.


Burrito Al Pastor wrote:
EileenProphetofIstus wrote:


I prefer to think of magic items in the sense of character attachment and roleplaying. "Wow, this magic item saved my life or has been with me since the early days of my first dungeon" as opposed to getting the biggest bonuses to make the most powerful character I can. That may be a part of D&D but not one that I prefer. I'm more character driven, not plusses and minuses driven. Each to his own though.

Stormwind fallacy.

WOW....didn't know it was a bad thing to roleplay. Thank you for the correction on gaming style and preference, perhaps you should properly instruct me on the finer points of the game, providing you have time and do not charge for your services. Your critisism of my preference makes me realize that I should just stop gaming all together.


ArchLich wrote:
How many items would have been "a reduction of the christmas tree effect"?

I'd say it would be a system that didn't REQUIRE magic items, where magic items were a condiment rather than a staple. I'd like a system where the guy with the magic gloves can spider climb up a wall, or can have a clay pidgeon that turns into a real pidgeon to deliver a message for him. They'd provide new and interesting options, but wouldn't become a hangup. I could see magic weapons, but they'd be like the magic rings. A guy with a magic sword would be a legendary figure of Paragon or Epic status.

Now, in all honesty, there's nothing in 4e (or even 3.5)that suggest you CAN'T use magic items like that, but it certainly isn't their intent.

Dark Archive

You know between Shelly's article implying that people will still want to rest to get their per day spells back, and this 11th level Christmas tree gnome, I call shenanigans on the whole 4E project. They weren't trying to fix stuff. They just wanted to make things different enough so you have to buy your books all over again.


I always thought Earthdawn's approach to magic items was interesting and very much addressed the Christmas Tree issue. Essentially, utility items tended to be limited use (like one-time or limited per day) but pretty widely available. So everyone had a "magic item" or four, though they didn't really do all that much.

Occasionally (usually as part of a campaign focus), a character would acquire a really powerful magic item--these things had backstories, were unique, and were head and shoulders above the normal utility items. The neat part was that until the character spent time using and linking his/her own story to the item's, it wasn't really all that powerful.

By performing Deeds (actions specific to the item, like visiting pivotal spots in the item's history, finishing tasks unfinished by the creator/owner, etc.), the character gained the ability to unlock additional powers--to use the item closer to its full ability. (There was also costs associated with this unlock, so it wasn't just a 'complete quest, gain power level II' type situation.)

Characters could also use a similar system to make their own mundane items into these legendary items over time, which was an even neater mechanic--by working with the GM, you could start with a plain longsword and gradually tie it to your character and his/her history, imbueing it with powers as you gained in power yourself.

Earthdawn had its share of problems, but it also had some really awesome concepts.


Grimcleaver wrote:
ArchLich wrote:
How many items would have been "a reduction of the christmas tree effect"?

I'd say it would be a system that didn't REQUIRE magic items, where magic items were a condiment rather than a staple. I'd like a system where the guy with the magic gloves can spider climb up a wall, or can have a clay pidgeon that turns into a real pidgeon to deliver a message for him. They'd provide new and interesting options, but wouldn't become a hangup. I could see magic weapons, but they'd be like the magic rings. A guy with a magic sword would be a legendary figure of Paragon or Epic status.

Now, in all honesty, there's nothing in 4e (or even 3.5)that suggest you CAN'T use magic items like that, but it certainly isn't their intent.

It would be kinda neat if D&D had been set up this way from the beginning. Makes magic more magical.


Cory Stafford 29 wrote:
You know between Shelly's article implying that people will still want to rest to get their per day spells back, and this 11th level Christmas tree gnome, I call shenanigans on the whole 4E project. They weren't trying to fix stuff. They just wanted to make things different enough so you have to buy your books all over again.

It had to be on the "GOAL" list. I just would like to see them admit it.

Liberty's Edge

Pathfinder Lost Omens, Rulebook Subscriber
EileenProphetofIstus wrote:


I wouldn't mind seeing enhancement bonus drop in importance or effect. Apparently they are removing the shield enhancement bonus (the only thing that seems weird about that is they kept enhancement bonus for armor).

I look at it like this...back in 3.0 you could stack the bonuses for magical bows and magical arrows, which ended up with archer types being able to do more than was really intended (more easily hit high AC mobs, inflict more damage than was expected at your level). They fixed it in 3.5 so that they didn't stack.

Having separate AC bonuses to armor and shields gets the same problem - you can end up with AC values that are outside of the expected range very easily, but it isn't as attractive to keep the bonuses and just say they don't stack. Giving unique and different options to shields (like shield throwing or arrow catching or whatever) is better than just giving them bonuses that get discarded in a stack.

Dark Archive

WotCLogan wrote:
Rings: This slot has changed quite a bit. A starting character isn’t powerful enough to unleash the power of a ring.

This suggests to me that rings may be the 'at will' or 'always on' items, such as Rings of Invisibility or Hats of Disguise, that allow the wearer to use a particular spell as much as they want, round by round. By 11th level, even a Ring of Scorching Ray as an at will item wouldn't be unbalanced, since casters will already have at will powers that do as much (or more) damage, anyway.

That could be neat.


Robert Little wrote:
EileenProphetofIstus wrote:


I wouldn't mind seeing enhancement bonus drop in importance or effect. Apparently they are removing the shield enhancement bonus (the only thing that seems weird about that is they kept enhancement bonus for armor).

I look at it like this...back in 3.0 you could stack the bonuses for magical bows and magical arrows, which ended up with archer types being able to do more than was really intended (more easily hit high AC mobs, inflict more damage than was expected at your level). They fixed it in 3.5 so that they didn't stack.

Having separate AC bonuses to armor and shields gets the same problem - you can end up with AC values that are outside of the expected range very easily, but it isn't as attractive to keep the bonuses and just say they don't stack. Giving unique and different options to shields (like shield throwing or arrow catching or whatever) is better than just giving them bonuses that get discarded in a stack.

Yea, I didn't think it was bad, just odd they allowed armor but not shield. I'm not concerned that it will be a problem though. I kinda wish they could get away from the "plusses" thing anyway, but then it might not seem like D&D if they did.

Dark Archive

crosswiredmind wrote:
Well the main problems with adapting D&D to low fantasy for me were the following: -snip-

Exactly these are the build-in mechanics that make it essential that magic items are available in 3rd editon and also in 4th edition.


I'm sorry but how does this reduce the reliance on magic items again?

His gnome is still covered in magic item ornaments.

"+ items" are still built into the math of the game?

Color me unimpressed.


Lathiira wrote:
bubbagump wrote:

Must...resist...the urge...to rant...

More 4e doubletalk. It's all crap. Nothing new here.

(See? I resisted! Aren't you proud?)

I'm proud of you, bubbagump. I'm trying real hard to do the same and now I have your sterling example to look to. Thanks for your assistance in keeping me away from spewing vile reality into this delusional piece of gorgon offal.

Oops. So much for not ranting. Ah well, it's a minor rant, at least. With apologies to those offended by that bit.

To be fair, we don't know what the magic items do. But really, he's decked out decently: better than my monk was at that level (and for 4 levels after), better than my changeling ranger is now (but that's only level 7), comparable to my heavy artillery drow wizardess from years ago. Without knowing what his stuff does, it's hard to say if the character meets the goal of having things besides the standard enhancements. Does that cloak add to Survival skill rolls, AC, saves, or what?

Also, can anyone find the statement that said they wanted us to be less reliant on magic items and/or less like Christmas trees? I like rubbing people's noses in their own statements so a link or direction would be nice. If we can't find it, then maybe we're all overreacting. Or inept at internet searches.

Finally, what kept us from having magic items that did more than buff us to begin with? Game design. Either the way higher-level encounters were designed, or the magic items designed. Some efforts have been made to address this in 3.5. The MIC has plenty of stuff that isn't strictly an enhancement bonus in cloth. You can add those bonuses to existing items as well. In the end, though, was that message not clear enough or were high level critters still too tough to survive in 3.5 w/o those bonuses? This playtest character is armed with all sorts of stuff, presenting to us the idea that the PCs will still need lots of magic to survive. Not explicitly stated, but implied.

So much for not ranting. I at least...

I don't have a link to the original blog/post that listed it as a design criteria, but the blog here has it listed in sentence #1.

Which would make me think that if you're going to list the design criteria in the first sentence, you'd kind of want your blog to support that objective...

More marketing weirdness from WotC.


I agree the gnome was pretty decked out. Now if what I understand is correct, the game is not designed for 5 characters not 4. It is reasonable to assume (I think anyway) that the party consists of 5 in order to properly test the game. Odds are, everyone is decked out the same. That's a lot of magic in that game, especially when you play 30 levels in a year, 1 game a week, that is a level every 1.7 games. Sounds like every game is Christmas time to me. No fun in that in my opinion. I'm sure some folks will like it though. I guess I just don't get it.


Logan Bonner wrote:

Primary Slots

We've preserved a number of items that have traditional “plusses.” These are the items we expect everybody to care about, and the ones that are factored into the math behind the game. If you’re 9th level, we expect you to have a set of +2 armor, and the challenges in the game at that level are balanced accordingly.

You know... at this point... isn't it pointless to even HAVE the +2 armor? I mean, this would be true even with 3.5, but if they're just doing math with the monsters and challenges to account for the expectation that every 9th level character will have it, can't they just omit magic armor entirely and do the math to account for its absence? (Maybe if anti-magic fields were common, it would mechanically make a difference...)

And for that matter, why have any gradual enhancement bonuses based on level, weapons or otherwise? If you can just do the math in the system to accommodate characters without it, they don't need to be necessary.

Idunno, maybe I'm thinking too much into it. To me, it just seems to cheapen the idea of a bonus.


EileenProphetofIstus wrote:
I agree the gnome was pretty decked out. Now if what I understand is correct, the game is not designed for 5 characters not 4. It is reasonable to assume (I think anyway) that the party consists of 5 in order to properly test the game. Odds are, everyone is decked out the same. That's a lot of magic in that game, especially when you play 30 levels in a year, 1 game a week, that is a level every 1.7 games. Sounds like every game is Christmas time to me. No fun in that in my opinion. I'm sure some folks will like it though. I guess I just don't get it.

You're correct in thinking 4e is being written for a 5-PC party.

The ironic thing about the 30-levels-per-year thing is that my players (yes, all of them in all 4 campaigns) griped more about the overly-rapid advancement than they did about anything else in 3.5e, including grappling. I'm really looking forward to hearing them explode when they see the 4e books.

Dark Archive

crosswiredmind wrote:


oversimplification of melee - complexity in D&D rests in the use and interaction of spells, spell effects and magic items. Melee, by contrast, is boiled down to hit AC and roll damage. There is no real active defense in D&D (no parry or dodge) and armor does not actually prevent damage - AC is all about the roll to hit. Because low fantasy is more about the relative skill of two combatants then it is about the magical effects that support the fighters, it leads to rather dull combats that involve little more than to hit and damage rolls. At that point rock/paper/scissors is just as interesting and useful a mechanic giving the person with more hit points some extra do overs.

Agreed.

Though, with some mix and match you can have quite a combat system... wounds/vitality and armors as DR from UA, combat maneuvers from the Book of Iron Might (by Mike Mearls!), parry and dodge actions from the Conan d20 RPG, fatigue from A Game of Thrones RPG... a bit of creative house-ruling... the secret Frankenstein manual... and there it is.

I'm currently using this patchwork monster in my homebrew, and after a steep learning curve at the start, it works like a charm: fast and simple when needed, complex and detailed as desired.


bubbagump wrote:
The ironic thing about the 30-levels-per-year thing is that my players (yes, all of them in all 4 campaigns) griped more about the overly-rapid advancement than they did about anything else in 3.5e, including grappling. I'm really looking forward to hearing them explode when they see the 4e books.

So you haven't told them yet huh! Do you have a death wish Bubba....You know, I may be a cleric of Istus, but I DON'T DO HOUSE CALLS....

Scarab Sages

Adventure Path Charter Subscriber; Pathfinder Companion, Lost Omens Subscriber
EileenProphetofIstus wrote:
I agree the gnome was pretty decked out. Now if what I understand is correct, the game is not designed for 5 characters not 4. It is reasonable to assume (I think anyway) that the party consists of 5 in order to properly test the game. Odds are, everyone is decked out the same.

See, this is what's making me give the ole noggin a scratch. It's been noted that a 10th level fighter in one of the games had no magic items at all. So if the games made for 5 PC's, and I happen to only have 4 players, and one of them is a fighter (thus, no magic items), does that mean every session is going to be lifestyles of the rich and famous for the non-fighters?

Also, is playing a fighter (who doesn't use magic items) now not as fun because he doesn't get the same amount of loot as the other 4 players?


Maybe the fighter had something like vow of poverty (which I HATE), or got some other bonuses for not using magic items. 4e makes me angry and sad at the same time.


EileenProphetofIstus wrote:
bubbagump wrote:
The ironic thing about the 30-levels-per-year thing is that my players (yes, all of them in all 4 campaigns) griped more about the overly-rapid advancement than they did about anything else in 3.5e, including grappling. I'm really looking forward to hearing them explode when they see the 4e books.
So you haven't told them yet huh! Do you have a death wish Bubba....You know, I may be a cleric of Istus, but I DON'T DO HOUSE CALLS....

With the exception of only a few (my wife is one of the exceptions - you should hear some of her anti-4e rants!), they depend on me for their gaming industry news.

The groans and downcast faces when I first announced there was going to be a 4e were truly delicious. ;-)


bubbagump wrote:
EileenProphetofIstus wrote:
bubbagump wrote:
The ironic thing about the 30-levels-per-year thing is that my players (yes, all of them in all 4 campaigns) griped more about the overly-rapid advancement than they did about anything else in 3.5e, including grappling. I'm really looking forward to hearing them explode when they see the 4e books.
So you haven't told them yet huh! Do you have a death wish Bubba....You know, I may be a cleric of Istus, but I DON'T DO HOUSE CALLS....

With the exception of only a few (my wife is one of the exceptions - you should hear some of her anti-4e rants!), they depend on me for their gaming industry news.

The groans and downcast faces when I first announced there was going to be a 4e were truly delicious. ;-)

Well Bubba, it seems you enjoy torturing your players. I shall have several various scrolls of healing prepared for you when you decide to break them the news and then laugh at their reactions. My condolences to your wife since she will most likely be the one using the scrolls to get you back on your feet. Just make sure you don't write her one of those "Make Sure You Proof Read Your Work" letters again. We DO want the scrolls to work ya know.

Dark Archive

bubbagump wrote:
The ironic thing about the 30-levels-per-year thing is that my players (yes, all of them in all 4 campaigns) griped more about the overly-rapid advancement than they did about anything else in 3.5e, including grappling.

Yeah, leveling up so rapidly was the downfall of two of our games. More time spent advancing the characters than *playing them* it seemed at times, and we finally found a compromise that worked for us, by slowing advancement down and ignoring the standard exp rules.


Set wrote:
bubbagump wrote:
The ironic thing about the 30-levels-per-year thing is that my players (yes, all of them in all 4 campaigns) griped more about the overly-rapid advancement than they did about anything else in 3.5e, including grappling.

Yeah, leveling up so rapidly was the downfall of two of our games. More time spent advancing the characters than *playing them* it seemed at times, and we finally found a compromise that worked for us, by slowing advancement down and ignoring the standard exp rules.

What idea did you use to slow down level advancement? How did you go about achieving it? I do the same thing, and I'm also interested in hearing what other folks have done to fix this issue in their campaign.


EileenProphetofIstus wrote:
Set wrote:
bubbagump wrote:
The ironic thing about the 30-levels-per-year thing is that my players (yes, all of them in all 4 campaigns) griped more about the overly-rapid advancement than they did about anything else in 3.5e, including grappling.

Yeah, leveling up so rapidly was the downfall of two of our games. More time spent advancing the characters than *playing them* it seemed at times, and we finally found a compromise that worked for us, by slowing advancement down and ignoring the standard exp rules.

What idea did you use to slow down level advancement? How did you go about achieving it? I do the same thing, and I'm also interested in hearing what other folks have done to fix this issue in their campaign.

I award half experience, thus doubling the time it takes to level up. I've found that doing this eliminates the "I'll never level up at this rate" syndrome of 1e without provoking the "I leveled up twice in four hours" syndrome of 3.5e.

I would also like to point out to my detractors: See? I don't think 3.5e is perfect. I can even complain about it in public. But that still doesn't make me like 4e.

Sovereign Court

EileenProphetofIstus wrote:


Rings only available at 11th level...garbage. If they want to retain game balance and dictate how the DM should handle this, then I think they should have a better mechanic, such as how powerful the specific item is rather than the object (ring) it is. Why single out rings only. I wouldn't mind seeing some restrictions on level/magic item use, but I want consistentcy, not just one thing called out.

In 4e you can't marry before 11th level. That's why people start adventuring and kill stuff : just so they can wed.

Also it takes away the frustration of waiting. Fun, uh ?

RPG Superstar 2008 Top 32

Spellcrafter wrote:
I find it terribly disappointing to see a large list of magic items possessed by a character at level 11. I hope that isn’t an accurate depiction of how 4th edition will really work. I was looking forward to a substantial reduction of the PCs reliance upon magic items in 4e. I guess I'll have to look up Iron Heroes after all.

And lets not forget, this 11th level character is expected to go to 30th level, not 20 as the current (not broken..epic handbook..cough cough) system is designed.


BPorter wrote:

I'm sorry but how does this reduce the reliance on magic items again?

His gnome is still covered in magic item ornaments.

"+ items" are still built into the math of the game?

Color me unimpressed.

No ruleset for D&D is going to satisfy the low end of the magic items crowd. They've cut the number of magic items you /can/ have by nearly 50% (from 14 slots to 8 slots..with 2 more gained by level advancement) and they've stated that the significance of 5/8ths of those slots is drastically cut, but you still think the guy is dressed like a christmas tree.

An 11th lvl character using the core DMG rules of 3.5 would have more.. and more powerful.. items than that gnome.

We also don't know the number scale. So is +2 a big difference or a little difference? In 3.5, a lvl 9 fighter would probably have something like +14 to hit before his magic items. So a +2 item is about a 15% boost to his power. Is a +2 item for a lvl 9 fighter the same, more, or less in the new system? Damage difference between magical and non magical weapons seems reduced significantly in other example

Do you honestly think there was a snowball's chance in hell that they were going to make magic items as rare a real world legend? Sorry, but we low magic types are definitely NOT the majority of the player base that they have, much less the one they claim to want. This is a big step in our direction. Especially if it is true that only the "core three" are factored into game balance and the rest are "cool, but unnecessary."

You can be unimpressed if you want, but frankly I'm surprised they went even this far given D&D's 30 year love affair with the christmas tree.


crosswiredmind wrote:
CEBrown wrote:


Interesting - it seems to me you'd just need to select the opposition more carefully and tweak treasures to go "low fantasy," but I've never tried it myself (and I must admit I'd probably go with HERO or pull out one of the old Historical References for 2e if I really wanted to)...
What about it didn't work?

Well the main problems with adapting D&D to low fantasy for me were the following:

[<snip>

As a counterpoint, however, the Conan RPG, Grim Tales, the Thieves' World & Black Company, Game of Thrones, and Iron Heroes games all illustrate how the d20 mechanics can be applied to lower-magic genres other than D&D's High Fantasy.

4e could have been designed with a sliding scale in mind. I understand why WotC chose not to do so, even if I don't agree with it, but it's hardly due to limitations inherent in the system or core mechanic itself.

And although I can already hear the cries of "it wouldn't be D&D without magic items, high-powered magic, or the ability to fall off a 200' cliff and dust yourself off" - clearly the slaughter of sacred cows or "D&Disms" hasn't been an issue with the the 4e development team.


Timothy Mallory wrote:
BPorter wrote:

I'm sorry but how does this reduce the reliance on magic items again?

His gnome is still covered in magic item ornaments.

"+ items" are still built into the math of the game?

Color me unimpressed.

No ruleset for D&D is going to satisfy the low end of the magic items crowd. They've cut the number of magic items you /can/ have by nearly 50% (from 14 slots to 8 slots..with 2 more gained by level advancement) and they've stated that the significance of 5/8ths of those slots is drastically cut, but you still think the guy is dressed like a christmas tree.

An 11th lvl character using the core DMG rules of 3.5 would have more.. and more powerful.. items than that gnome.

We also don't know the number scale. So is +2 a big difference or a little difference? In 3.5, a lvl 9 fighter would probably have something like +14 to hit before his magic items. So a +2 item is about a 15% boost to his power. Is a +2 item for a lvl 9 fighter the same, more, or less in the new system? Damage difference between magical and non magical weapons seems reduced significantly in other example

Do you honestly think there was a snowball's chance in hell that they were going to make magic items as rare a real world legend? Sorry, but we low magic types are definitely NOT the majority of the player base that they have, much less the one they claim to want. This is a big step in our direction. Especially if it is true that only the "core three" are factored into game balance and the rest are "cool, but unnecessary."

You can be unimpressed if you want, but frankly I'm surprised they went even this far given D&D's 30 year love affair with the christmas tree.

The Christmas tree effect refers to someone casting Detect Magic and a character lighting up like a Christmas tree due to the plethora of magic items they carry or wear. How eight items that cover the example character's body equates to nerfing the Christmas tree effect I'll never understand. They guy is still glowing from head to toe.

You can argue, with some validity I think, that they have decreased the reliance on magic items, since "only" 3 are now assumed/essential. However, I can argue with equal validity that by building such assumptions into the mechanics of the game, the reliance is just as great only more narrowly focused.

You're right, they can't satisfy everyone. However, if magic items are an optional add-on rather than built into the math of the game, you've got a greater chance at reaching both ends of the spectrum.

So sorry, still unimpressed.


Modera wrote:


So if the games made for 5 PC's, and I happen to only have 4 players, and one of them is a fighter (thus, no magic items), does that mean every session is going to be lifestyles of the rich and famous for the non-fighters?

Also, is playing a fighter (who doesn't use magic items) now not as fun because he doesn't get the same amount of loot as the other 4 players?

That particular character didn't have magic items. Fighters in general certainly can. I don't know why that character didn't, but I don't get the impression that items are nearly as powerful as before, so while that guy was doubtless weaker than a properly equipped fighter he was apparently functional.

In 3.5, such a guy would be gimped. He wouldn't have his Gauntlets of Ogre Power, his +2 flaming sword, and other possible trinkets that boosted his melee prowess by 30-50%. In 4.0, the stuff he is giving up is far less impactful. If the scale of numbers is similar to 3.5, then its more like a 10-15% difference.

So this one fighter didn't want or didn't have items for some reason. It hurt him, but it apparently wasn't crippling like it would be in the current rules.


yeah, they could not build in any assumptions about magic items at all. But that would completely gut their other goals: namely the attempt to make a workable CR type system that new DMs can actually use.

You can't do that if you don't have any idea whether or not the fighter has magic items or how powerful they are. 1e didn't make any assumptions about how much magic a character should have (though they did have those charts for equipping npc adventurers by level), but they also provided no real guidance as to when a beholder was an appropriate encounter for a party. The DM had to learn by trial and error.

For me, with nearly 30 years of more or less continuous DMing that sort of advice is pretty irrelevant. But they are clearly trying to reach out to new players and to make life easier on existing DMs who don't have that kind of experience. And so they have to create a set of assumptions, which they can then turn around and offer as a baseline for DMs who want to avoid either stinginess or monty haul issues.

Is it still a christmas tree with less than 2/3 of the decorations as last year? Sure. But its also still 2/3 of the decorations (and smaller ones on top of that).

Dark Archive

I'm pretty sure from my memory of the podcasts that this gnome is from the same party as the fighter that had no magic items for a while. My theory is that they playtested without magic items, and then when they moved to the paragon tier they decided to go to the other extreme to see the difference in the PC's power. I could be wrong, but it seems like a reasonable assumption. It still seems silly to use a character as decked out as this gnome to show how much less characters are supposed to rely on magic items in 4E.


Stereofm wrote:
EileenProphetofIstus wrote:


Rings only available at 11th level...garbage. If they want to retain game balance and dictate how the DM should handle this, then I think they should have a better mechanic, such as how powerful the specific item is rather than the object (ring) it is. Why single out rings only. I wouldn't mind seeing some restrictions on level/magic item use, but I want consistentcy, not just one thing called out.

In 4e you can't marry before 11th level. That's why people start adventuring and kill stuff : just so they can wed.

Also it takes away the frustration of waiting. Fun, uh ?

WOW, that makes sense. They did say something about having encounters

that weren't entirely fighting oriented. It must be the wedding thing. I wonder what level we have to be to have children? It would seem you found it. Excellent job!!!!


EileenProphetofIstus wrote:
Stereofm wrote:
EileenProphetofIstus wrote:


Rings only available at 11th level...garbage. If they want to retain game balance and dictate how the DM should handle this, then I think they should have a better mechanic, such as how powerful the specific item is rather than the object (ring) it is. Why single out rings only. I wouldn't mind seeing some restrictions on level/magic item use, but I want consistentcy, not just one thing called out.

In 4e you can't marry before 11th level. That's why people start adventuring and kill stuff : just so they can wed.

Also it takes away the frustration of waiting. Fun, uh ?

WOW, that makes sense. They did say something about having encounters

that weren't entirely fighting oriented. It must be the wedding thing. I wonder what level we have to be to have children? It would seem you found it. Excellent job!!!!

And maybe after 20th level, when you go epic, you can eventually have a lover as well!!!


Mike Mearls chimed in on one of the Magic Item threads on EN World. According to what he said, only the three "+" items (weapons/implements, armor, and neck slot items) are factored into the system's math, but that they are trying to make the underlying math as transparent as possible. Basically, the DMG will have a chart that shows what plusses a character should have per level; DMs who want less reliance on magic items can remove the items and reconfigure the bonuses into the class advancement. Another poster also pointed out that this also makes scaling magic items much easier to design.

Dark Archive

EileenProphetofIstus wrote:
What idea did you use to slow down level advancement? How did you go about achieving it? I do the same thing, and I'm also interested in hearing what other folks have done to fix this issue in their campaign.

At the conclusion of a story section, everybody went up a level, and had some downtime and 'free exp' to do any item crafting or whatever equal to 5 or 10% of the exp required for that level (which was basically so that the Wizard could Scribe some Scrolls, we never went beyond that for item crafting).

It was purely 'drive by feel,' and only once did I have a 'level-up' occur during a story section, since it was part of the storyline that the party would have to become tougher to handle the BBEG at the end, who had outclassed them to start. Everybody leveled up, spellcasters gained a new tier of spells (they had just hit 5th level) and basically it was a 'training montage' moment where they practice and get ready to come back at their nemesis with shiny new powers and weapons.

Darrien wrote:
And lets not forget, this 11th level character is expected to go to 30th level, not 20 as the current (not broken..epic handbook..cough cough) system is designed.

So the fighting and screaming and taking of stuff happens *before* the marriage? Huh. It really is a fantasy game.

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