Weapon Crystal vs. Undead???


Age of Worms Adventure Path


The truedeath weapon augment crystal (Magic Item Compendium, p. 66) comes in three levels of power. The first level costs 1,000 gp and allows you to deal an extra 1d6 damage to undead with a masterwork or magical weapon. The second level costs 5,000 gp and allows a +1 or greater magic weapon to function as a ghost touch weapon. The third level costs 10,000 gp and enables a +3 or greater weapon to deliver sneak attacks and critical hits against undead.

My question is... should the cost of these be upped in the Age of Worms campaign due to the fact that the majority of the opponents are undead and therefore these crystals will be more effective than in an average campaign that is not undead-focused?

Thoughts?


Ogrork the Mighty wrote:


My question is... should the cost of these be upped in the Age of Worms campaign due to the fact that the majority of the opponents are undead and therefore these crystals will be more effective than in an average campaign that is not undead-focused?

Thoughts?

I believe the Magic Item Compendium tried to fill in areas where magic was rare. This means they tried to produce more low cost magic items. So overall, in my opinion, the items tend to pack more power for the price. You could easily make a case for doubling or tripling the price. Were the City of Greyhawk to be overrun by undead, 5 times the cost would not be out of order.

That being said the first level crystal is extremely useful in this campaign, since it can be added to enhance a pre-existing magical weapon. So a +1 Flaming Long Sword with the least true death crystal would do 1d8 weapon damage + 1d6 Fire + 1d6 Crystal damage (= untyped positive energy perhaps...)+ Strength. That's a lot of damage.

Personally as a DM in an AoW campaign I've restricted Tome of Magic Spells, and access to magic items is limited. It seems like there is definite 'power creep' issues. The later books for 3rd edition give more powerful feats, items, and spells.

My 2 Cents


Pathfinder Battles Case Subscriber

They are a good buy, and if you priced them by supply and demand they should probably cost more.

Personally I don't have a problem with them in my game. I find that about half the items my PCs use come from the DMG, and half from the MIC. That seems about right to me.

Plus, I think a lot of the items in the MIC allow intelligent characters who read the book to address their characters' weaknesses (I generally think the items in the MIC let you address a weakness - sneak attack undead; see invisibility -- more so than the DMG that makes you better at something you're already good at like +6 DEX gloves; +5 cloak of resistance).

That's just my overall opinion. Do I think the item will be useful in AoW? Absolutely.


Ogrork the Mighty wrote:

The truedeath weapon augment crystal (Magic Item Compendium, p. 66) comes in three levels of power. The first level costs 1,000 gp and allows you to deal an extra 1d6 damage to undead with a masterwork or magical weapon. The second level costs 5,000 gp and allows a +1 or greater magic weapon to function as a ghost touch weapon. The third level costs 10,000 gp and enables a +3 or greater weapon to deliver sneak attacks and critical hits against undead.

My question is... should the cost of these be upped in the Age of Worms campaign due to the fact that the majority of the opponents are undead and therefore these crystals will be more effective than in an average campaign that is not undead-focused?

Thoughts?

Magic Item Compendium costs are vastly under-priced 90% of the time, IMO. The augment crystals seem especially egregious to me.

For example, that first crystal gives you about half the benefit of a Bane:Undead weapon, at 1/6th the MINIMUM cost (of making a +1 weapon into +1 bane), plus you have the ability to move it around, essentially making it a slotless item (which should cost x2). That would make the value of the effect at 5000-6000, not even counting what campaign you're in, or the potentially vast savings on not paying the premium of making a weapon more and more magical.

The ghost touch one is also underpriced, but not quite as badly. I'll not even try on the third one.

... But your question was, should high usage make them more expensive? Only to the extent the usage is widespread in the campaign.


I think a meta-game issue needs to be taken into account here as well. A player who chose to play a rogue (practically a necessity for trap finding and disabling in this campaign) can feel pretty darn useless in combat (of which there is a lot) in this campaign if they can not use their primary damage dealing ability, sneak attack, because so many of the opponents are undead.

As a result, I think I would be comfortable making sure the rogue gets a greater crystal eventually.

Add on top of that, by the time PCs are getting the greater crystals that they are competing with high level mages in the party to deal damage and I think this is not over powered at all.

Sean Mahoney


Generally speaking I'd say no. The reality on teh ground is you've just made it more viable to play and enjoy a rogue in the AoWs campaign. Even without the MIC benefits there is still going to be trouble for our rogue character since he's still limited to doing sneak attacks with whichever item he has the crystal on (so probably no ranged sneak attacks unless he buys another crystal for example). Increasing the price is essentially singling out the rogue for special punishment.

As to the items being too cheap. My experience has been that their generally pretty good - they ARE far cheaper then many similar items in the DMG but thats essentially because they gave up on the DMG pricing system as being inherently flawed.

Essentially the argument works as follows - Players almost never buy Ghost Touch magic items because they are a bad buy compared to other items one could get for teh same price - hence Ghost Touch must be overpriced. They get around that by introducing items with similar abilities as Ghost Touch but reducing the price tag. I've still only ever seen this crystal used by Rogues who are trying to get past the undead effect for their sneak attack ability. The rest of the party will generally pick u some other crystal.

All of that said there is definite power creep in MIC - if you don't use it for the bad guys as well then this is something of an issue to be considered. If you do routinely use it for the bad guys then you'll probably actually find that the power creep is on teh DMs side of teh screen more then the players. This is because the book is chalk full of good one use per day type items. A DM nows his bad guy can use all their items abilities while players still have to ration theirs. This compares very favorably for the DM compared to the general continual use items like stat boosters that are the mainstay of the DMG since the NPC is using valuable magic item wealth to buy items where most of the cost is really about the item being permanent.


The party's rogue is definitely going to buy this and I have no problem with that. The party's scout is also interested and will probably look to buy one (I've told him it will work with skirmish).

The worry is that all of the other PCs will say, "Hey, that's a great idea and the damage stacks with energy damage so let's all buy one!" With a party of 6 PCs, that's a lot of extra damage dice getting thrown around...


While I agree with the general sentiment regarding pricing (that ghost touch is rarely taken, therefore it must be overpriced, etc, etc) I do have one bit of my trademark "World Versimiltude" to throw into the mix.

Hyper-intelligent bad guys.

Dragotha has a hoard of UNPRECEDENTED size. Lashonna likewise has access to obscene amounts of money, even more so if we consider her political and social connections. The overall "Kyuss Organization" posesses large amounts of money.

Why then, would they allow items capable of making any weapon of decent quality into a frightful threat against themselves, their minions, their god, or their goals?

These crystals should be normal price in the first adventure only, maybe the second. After that, start increasing price as both need and scarcity increase alarmingly. Heck, Lashonna might be more than interested in "gifting" the PCs with a set of them when she decides to send them after Dragotha. Especially if she could put some contingent spells on them.


The Black Bard wrote:
These crystals should be normal price in the first adventure only, maybe the second. After that, start increasing price as both need and scarcity increase alarmingly. Heck, Lashonna might be more than interested in "gifting" the PCs with a set of them when she decides to send them after Dragotha. Especially if she could put some contingent spells on them.

Would you then start placing these purchased magic items into the hordes and treasure of those who purchased them?

"Alright! We defeated the undead dragon! Let's see what is in her horde! Wow! 28 greater crystals... that's kind of strange..."

On another note regarding MiC items not being included in the hordes for use by the bad guys an the power creep that is or is not associated with this, I would keep in mind that this also means that the PCs are not getting these items as loot. This means that all items need to either be purchased at full price or crafted at half with an associated XP cost (something my PC loathe, even though I would happily spend it with a character). I suppose it also gives the DM a "line item veto" power over the addition of any of these items in their campaign.

Sean Mahoney


Sean Mahoney wrote:

Would you then start placing these purchased magic items into the hordes and treasure of those who purchased them?

"Alright! We defeated the undead dragon! Let's see what is in her horde! Wow! 28 greater crystals... that's kind of strange..."

Depends. Lashonna? Yes, because she hates Dragotha and would love to see him die, so keeping a few peices of "Kyuss contrabrand" is logical. But I don't see any of his Avolkai minions keeping them, seeing as how they basically are built to destroy what they eat (undead flesh). Thats like buying a box of mice and then tossing them into your grain silo.

As for Dragotha, I would think he would just destroy any he got ahold of. They are legitimate threats to the new world order.

This sort of thing works for my group, because it reminds the PCs that while the story revolves around them, the world doesn't. Which they like. Different groups, different tastes.


Am I going to run out and spend 24000gp to bump my 8000+gp +1 flaming shortsword to have a +3 enhancement bonus so it can qualify for a greater crystal that costs an additional 10000gp? That's a 42000gp weapon right there.

No.

Instead, I'm going to commission a new weapon - a +1 ghost touch sword with ghost strike (MIC) added to it. Just 18000gp plus the cost of a masterwork sword for that. Granted, this cheaper weapon's magical abilities are useful against a less diverse spectrum of foes since it's basically just a +1 weapon against anyone who isn's an undead (& hopefully an incorporeal one), because it doesn't have the more expensive sword's flaming ability or those couple extra points of enhancement bonus. But the extra 16000gp jingling in my handy haversack will definitely buy enough lacy hankies to dry up all the tears I'll shed on that account, with enough change left over to upgrade my trusty old +1 flaming shortsword up to (for example) a +1 flaming frost shortsword, in case we encounter any fire immune / cold sensitive enemies.

However, If a DM ruled the greater crystal could be used with a weapon that is merely +3-equivalent, then yeah, I can absolutely see how the lineups of rogues who'd have chosen a different class if they'd have known AoW was so undead-heavy wrapping around the block outside the local Wal-Marldin & Elenderi's just to get on a waiting list might get out of hand. :o)

Just my opinion, is all. I'm sure I've probably left out some very valid arguments on either side.

Kang


Just cast greater magic weapon to get the necessary +3.


I beleive that using temporary enhancements like Magic Weapon is actually prohibited in the Augment Crystal description, but I could be wrong. If I am wrong, I will have to make a note in my MIC, because to me that feels a bit in violation of the spirit of the "minimum enchantment level" idea.


I've allowed pretty much anything in the Item Compendium that they can afford in. The undead crystal may seem overpowering, but it's an undead campaign and the rogue has already been poked on sneak attacks. Personally I allowed the ranger to take undead as a favored enemy and be able to crit them. This opened up a multi class dip for the party rogue which has him getting some extra damage in quite a bit, but i've never felt it was overpowered at all. And in case you haven't seen it yet, Kyuss is not undead.

Shadow Lodge

The only problem I have is that that is what Rogues are suppossed to be weak against. They are strong against nearly everything else but undead and constructs. I don't allow it, because it steps on other classes toes and the point of the game is not to make superman characters.

Granted, I have not yet begun the Age of Worms, but in nearly any other game I've run or been in, if a Rogue can't find something to do, regardless of what they arre fighting, than that player isn't playing a Rogue right. Just because they can't Sneak Attack doesn't mean they can't sneak attack, or tumble, or use a scroll, or hide, or something else. I had the exact same problem in a Exp. to Ravenloft game, and the Rogue just ruined the game for everyone.


To be fair, if a campaign called the Mechanus Wars featured a lot of constructs, would you be inclined to play a wizard or sorceror, especially if there was no access to Spell Compendium or Eberron setting material? Especially when most of the enemies after level 10 are golems with magic immunity? Barring the Spell Compendium, thats a lot of Melfs Acid Arrow being tossed about at level 10+.

On a similar note, what about a player who wanted to play a lightning/electricity based sorceror in Savage Tide. Demons are immune to electricity, which makes many of the most important encounters problematic for a valid PC concept. Allowing the PC access to spells like Sound Lance (as a sort of "thunder" effect) or magnetic spells (the few that there are) gives them options they would not normally have.

This is just me, I prefer to encourage players to play classes, rather than discourage them. Age of Worms is discouraging to anyone with Sneak Attack, Mind Effects/Illusions, Stunning, or Ability Damage effects, due to the high prevalence of undead. It is, vice versa, rewarding to heavy hitters, positive energy manipulators, and evokers/transmuters.

I don't think PCs need to be supermen (until after level 15, in which case they already are regardless, relative to the normal people), but they should be able to operate effectively in the Adventure Path assuming they gear themselves accordingly. If the barbarian can put Undead Bane on his +2 greatsword, I don't see why the rogue can't put a Lesser Truedeath Crystal on his +1 keen rapier.

Shadow Lodge

I guess what I mean is that why can't the Rogue take an undead Bane weapon? Or learn to use the many other Rogue abilities? Or (do what everyone else has to do to overcome their short commings) and multiclass. A Rogue can take a level of Cleric or a few levels of Paladin to be a little more effective against undead, and instead of stepping on those two classes toes, can either help them shine more, or carry some of the burden, (healing, buffing without needing to make a check, a few new skills).

Secondly, there are a lot of adventures designed for either well rounded parties or Rogues in paticular, so it is not like no one else has to go through adventures at a disadvantage.

The way I see it, and this is a very Rogue exclusive issue in most of my experience, is if you are going to play in a high arcane game, do you house rule that Clerics now get fireball, web, and whatnot? Do you give Clerics, Fighters, and Wizards x3 skills for a game of intrigue? (I'm all for giving those classes more skills, but thats because I feel they can't do their jobs right without them).

Undead and Constructs being immune to sneak attack was designed specifically to balance the class and to give other classes circumstancial strengths. Taking that weakness away, for relatively cheap, not only unbalances the class, it also robs from other classes/players. Particularly when there is no need to do so, (i.e. there are a lot of other things a Rogue can do, and they may not all be as fun, but hey all other classes have to give up their fun now and again for the party to live).
They can Tumble, Use Magic Device, sneak attack without Sneak Attack (something usually even the Fighter can't do), Aid Another, keep from getting hit, or sneak past the horde to down the caster controlling them, or something. If the player can't find something to do in an undead heavy game, that's the players fault not the DM or the Adventure.


Beckett wrote:

I guess what I mean is that why can't the Rogue take an undead Bane weapon? Or learn to use the many other Rogue abilities? Or (do what everyone else has to do to overcome their short commings) and multiclass. A Rogue can take a level of Cleric or a few levels of Paladin to be a little more effective against undead, and instead of stepping on those two classes toes, can either help them shine more, or carry some of the burden, (healing, buffing without needing to make a check, a few new skills).

Secondly, there are a lot of adventures designed for either well rounded parties or Rogues in paticular, so it is not like no one else has to go through adventures at a disadvantage.

The way I see it, and this is a very Rogue exclusive issue in most of my experience, is if you are going to play in a high arcane game, do you house rule that Clerics now get fireball, web, and whatnot? Do you give Clerics, Fighters, and Wizards x3 skills for a game of intrigue? (I'm all for giving those classes more skills, but thats because I feel they can't do their jobs right without them).

Undead and Constructs being immune to sneak attack was designed specifically to balance the class and to give other classes circumstancial strengths. Taking that weakness away, for relatively cheap, not only unbalances the class, it also robs from other classes/players. Particularly when there is no need to do so, (i.e. there are a lot of other things a Rogue can do, and they may not all be as fun, but hey all other classes have to give up their fun now and again for the party to live).
They can Tumble, Use Magic Device, sneak attack without Sneak Attack (something usually even the Fighter can't do), Aid Another, keep from getting hit, or sneak past the horde to down the caster controlling them, or something. If the player can't find something to do in an undead heavy game, that's the players fault not the DM or the Adventure.

+3 weapons are not cheap, which is what is needed for a greater crystal, and the rogue could have added actual abilities instead of just making it a +3 weapon. The rogue is definitely sacrificing to get past its weakness. Cleric and Wizards can make their own way.

OTOH, I don't think anyone worried about combat should be playing rogue. If they want to have skills, and right a combination of ranger and scout would be the way to go. The DM is under no obligation to allow the MiC, but I also don't see a reason to not allow it.


Beckett wrote:
I guess what I mean is that why can't the Rogue take an undead Bane weapon?

True, but a rogues primary damage tool is sneak attack (and crits, due to the fact what can be sneak attacked can be crit as well). A barbarian is fully effective against undead, because his damage tool is rage. A paladin is fully effective, because smite works on evil creatures, undead or not. Fireball is equally effective, and if fireball is resisted, lightning bolt. The rogue's ability is both inneffective against undead, the primary foe, and he doesnt have the variety of ability of a spellcaster to get around that.

Beckett wrote:
Or (do what everyone else has to do to overcome their short commings) and multiclass.

You both play a very different game from mine, and espouse a very different strategy. I have no way to respond to this statement, as it is too far from my own perspectives to relate to or even truly understand.

Beckett wrote:
Secondly, there are a lot of adventures designed for either well rounded parties or Rogues in paticular, so it is not like no one else has to go through adventures at a disadvantage.

Are you referring to the whole AoW path, or to all of the Dungeon Magazine adventures? If you are referring to adventures in the Path like Prince of Redhand, my personal experience is that bards and paladins dominate them due to having the social skills and the charisma to back them. The skill points of a rogue are prodigious, but a rogue also has a huge amount of skills to choose from. A trap/stealth rogue often does not have the skill points to spare on social skills. Again, personal experience, your mileage may vary.

Beckett wrote:
The way I see it, and this is a very Rogue exclusive issue in most of my experience, is if you are going to play in a high arcane game, do you house rule that Clerics now get fireball, web, and whatnot? Do you give Clerics, Fighters, and Wizards x3 skills for a game of intrigue?

In a high arcane game, rogues can max Use Magic Deice. Clerics can choose the Magic domain. In an intrigue game, people can choose to have higher mental stats to boost their successes and ranks in social skills. They can, by the core rules, make choices that can enhance their ability to do what is expected of them in the game. Against undead, a 3.5 rogue using core material does NOT have any choices or options available to him to enhance his ability to do what is expected of him. Unless the rogue is not expected to get into combat, which is a valid character concept choice, but not neccessarily one I would make, or expect the player in question to make.

Beckett wrote:
Undead and Constructs being immune to sneak attack was designed specifically to balance the class and to give other classes circumstancial strengths.

Actually, thats not 100% true. Its also a holdover from previous editions, and part of the early attempts of making a balanced game that was not needlessly complex yet still could hold to realism more often than not. Conversely, it is part of game balance, in a balanced game. A game that features undead as the primary opponents, as opposed to an equal dispensation of the creature types, is not a balanced game. Not a bad game, but not balanced, and that needs to be recognized and adjusted for.

Beckett wrote:
If the player can't find something to do in an undead heavy game, that's the players fault not the DM or the Adventure.

True, but let me expound upon that. "If the player hasn't tried to find something to do in an undead heavy game, thats the player's fault, not the DM or the Adventure. If the player has honestly tried to find something to do and can't, thats the DM's fault, not the Adventure, because ultimately, the DM is the one running the game for the players, and is responsible for their ability to have fun. They are responsible for excercising that ability."

My apologies, I'm in a bit of a confrontational mood. Dealing with a newborn baby is taking its toll on my stress levels. I shall attempt to maintain a suitable level of politeness in my posts, but my apologies if some unintentional vitrol escapes. I have nothing against you, Beckett, and I don't want my posts to come across like I do. Just trying to participate in the discussion.

Shadow Lodge

I'm right there with you man, mine's a few months now.

About the multiclassing, the response I always here when I want to make say a more social cleric, or a fighter with some skills, the number one response is not "there is this class", or "in this book is a feat", it is "dip into rogue". Not really so much what I would do or think as it works in reverse, too. As for the Rogue not being able to do anything to fix this by the core books, well yes they can. There are a lot of feats that a Rogue can take.
I've already mentioned a lot of tactics they could do. The impression I always get though (not from you, just in general) is not that it can't be done and that the party can't be a lot better for it, but rather that the Rogue just doesn't outdo everyone else enough and isn't the absolute superuberbad*ss.
What Rogue wouldn't use Spring Attack? It works a little better against undead (keeping you out of their reach). How about Combat Expertise, Imp Trip, or Imp. Bull Rush? Any and all of these can be used against Undead well, and the last two give the rest of the party a bonus. Why can't the Rogue, who is probably going first, ready an action to charge the undead to Flank right before the tank/dps attacks, so they both get the flank bonus? Or hold his action to do spring attack up and trip, than run right back and avoid any damage?

I would'nt have a problem if the item where 1/day, or at most 2/day. It is where the class's main weakness (against nonplayers) is negated. The closest aproximates that I can think of are along these lines: Wizards can wear armor, no penulty,Druids can wear any armor without losing abilities, Clerics can spontaniously cast all Cleric and Domains spells, Monks add there Wisdom bonus to their full plate & Tower Shield, Paladins can act however they want without any risk to losing class features, and things of that nature.

Undead are both more common a threat than Golems and Elementals, but also one of the few things other classes are strong against. I can really see it against Golems. No class is specifically strong against Golems, and Golems, well Constructs are uncommon but not rare encounters.


Beckett wrote:
The closest aproximates that I can think of are along these lines: Wizards can wear armor, no penulty,Druids can wear any armor without losing abilities, Clerics can spontaniously cast all Cleric and Domains spells, Monks add there Wisdom bonus to their full plate & Tower Shield, Paladins can act however they want without any risk to losing class features, and things of that nature.

Well, if were talking about magic items or prestige classes that let you "break your limitations"....

Wizard: twilight mithril armor.
Druid: Dragonscale full plate.
Cleric: There are some feats you can take to add other spells to your "spontaneous cast" list, specifically summon monster or inflict spells, for the good cleric.
Monk: I know there is a feat or PRC that allows you to use either light armor. Or just take a 2 level dip into Swordsage. From there, mithril breastplate.
Paladin: Grey Guard from Complete Scoundrel.

To me, one of the driving forces of the human nature, and by proxy a driving force of PCs in the game, is overcoming limitations. It makes sense to me that there exist ways to do so.


Kang wrote:
...I can absolutely see how the lineups ... wrapping around the block outside the local Wal-Marldin & Elenderi's just to get on a waiting list might get out of hand. :o)...

ROFL!!!

Denis, aka "Maldin"
Maldin's Greyhawk http://melkot.com
Where you can find Maldin's shop


In a "normal campaign" where monster types are more (or less) equivalently thrown about the various encounters and adventures then I would tend to agree that the crystals and such take the Rogue and allow them to "shine" even in spots where they are not designed to shine, thus taking away that shine from some other classes.

However.

Having a PC rogue in a "start to finish" campaign that revolves largely around critters that the rogue's primary combat ability will not work on is not "not letting him shine". Its "stomping him into a greasy mudhole on the ground". It no longer becomes an issue of "well the cleric needs to shine sometimes too!" it becomes an issue of "the rogue can't meaningfully contribute to combat at level 10 because his damage is so seriously nerfed". Campaigns centered around massive amounts of Undead generate just such a scenario. Combat starts, the rogue /hides/ in a corner and waits for it to end. Why? Because he can't generate damage equivalent to the cost in resources to him getting Hurt in combat while plinking away with 1d6 against something with 10 HD.

Without these crystals, the rogue in that campaign is best played as a henchman of some PC who can actually contribute to combat. The fighter or barbarian- or even a wizard perhaps. It doesn't matter. Heck, you could hire an expert trap finder/door opener and just have him stand back during combat..

Typical campaigns don't feature one creature that completely ignores the primary class ability of any given class. The monsters are more or less evenly sprinkled around so that each class has time to shine and a time to step aside and let someone else shine. Campaigns featuring high amounts of specific immunities however tend to sway that, and in /those/ campaigns the Crystals are just the thing to bring the pendulum back into alignment.

Stepping aside for an encounter or story arc while some else shines is part of what D&D is all about. Being expected to step aside from level 1 to campaign end however is what henchmen are made for, not PC's.

-S

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