How do you give / receive magic items in your games?


Pathfinder First Edition General Discussion

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Hey,

I've read a lot of thread and after having read a thread on the magus board where someone was saying that assuming a character will always have exactly all magic items he need I was wondering : how do you give/receive magic items in your games ?

How I do it as a DM : If it's a written campaign it's easy, my players found what the book said, regardless of their need.
In town they can sell and buy, but the more rare a magic object the more difficult to find one in a town or a city.
That's why my players always think twice before automatically choosing to use a falcata or other exotic weapon, because if they want a magic one they know it is very unlikely they find one in a dungeon and if thay want to buy one this will take time 'cause it's very unlikely there's some in the shop, they have to have them "tailormaid" (and I charge more in GP for that too :p ).
So using a longsword can be advantageous 'cause a lot of ennemies use it and, well, if I have to roll for a random object it's 70% chance of having a longsword... ;)

If there is some specific magic objects they really want to find and not pay I usually make "special adventure" for this, some kind of side quest... But they are aware that those quests are usually difficult and that the demanded object will be in the hand of their ennemy and be used against them before they can have them for themself, so they usually don't ask for overpowered objects (well, they are VERY aware of that 'cause the one time they ask for a very powerfull weapon AND a very powerfull armor the BBEG have both of them on him and some of the party died, the one who wanted the armor cannot use it anymore...)

So, what I wanted to say was that I am under the impression that a lot of players think that magic objects are a due and not a reward anymore... Am I the only one who feel that way ?


I generally encourage players to enchant their already masterwork weapons and armor that way their father's long sword is a viable weapon from low level to high level. Wondrous Items and big ticket items like rings, staves and rods are generally commissioned from a dedicated enchanter. Instead of having big ticket items readily available this can force the party into having downtime which I personally feel increases versimilitude.

Scrolls, Wands and Potions are generally available for sale at various quantities. The village priest might have potions available for a donation etc.

I also often include some sort of power reagant system in order to reduce the costs of enchanting items and provide more plot hooks.

In the case of magical items they don't really want I find it's useful to have the ability to trade items with other adventuring parties and/or power players. The party might not have use for a Golem Manual for example but they can trade it to a local wizard who might want a guardian for his tower. In return he might be willing to fashion an item more to the party's liking.


Pathfinder Adventure, Adventure Path Subscriber

Both when I play and when I DM we're a pretty permissive group. As long as there's reasonable availability of crafters and enchanters, most things are readily available.

The game specifies you get certain feat slots and lists the feats you can choose. Aside from special feats like Leadership, a DM trying to limit availability feels restrictive and arbitrary. The same thing for spells. You're expected to have a certain number of slots at a given caster level. Pick what you will. If I play a wizard and due to heavy adventuring the wizard levels up twice in one in-game week and you tell me I can't have my two automatically learned spells because I can't have researched them because I was too busy adventuring, I'm going to feel ripped off.

I feel it's the DM's job to find a way to give the players what they want.

The book says PCs get a certain wealth level. The book says that items have prices. Magic items are due. They are not rewards that the DM hands out (unless you want to specially craft things for your players). Even XP is due. If PCs defeat a CRx creature, they get XPy. Sure, we all adjust slightly for pacing purposes, but the game calls for what it calls for.

Players are entitled to what they're entitled to.

Here's a question: what do your players think? "I wanted a +3 frost dagger and my DM has made me an awesome side-quest so I can have fun, fun, fun!" Or is it "I wanted a +3 frost dagger so my DM went and created a side-quest that's going to distract me from doing what I want to do plot-wise. Wish I'd never asked for the dagger. Or really, I wish I'd just be allowed to buy the stupid thing while I was in town."

I'm absolutely not accusing. I'm just pointing out that we DMs can sometimes go overboard at cranking up the cool and real and awesome in the games we run when our players maybe just want to buy some arrows.


vuron wrote:

I generally encourage players to enchant their already masterwork weapons and armor that way their father's long sword is a viable weapon from low level to high level. Wondrous Items and big ticket items like rings, staves and rods are generally commissioned from a dedicated enchanter. Instead of having big ticket items readily available this can force the party into having downtime which I personally feel increases versimilitude.

Scrolls, Wands and Potions are generally available for sale at various quantities. The village priest might have potions available for a donation etc.

I also often include some sort of power reagant system in order to reduce the costs of enchanting items and provide more plot hooks.

In the case of magical items they don't really want I find it's useful to have the ability to trade items with other adventuring parties and/or power players. The party might not have use for a Golem Manual for example but they can trade it to a local wizard who might want a guardian for his tower. In return he might be willing to fashion an item more to the party's liking.

In the low magic campaign that I am currently running magic items are nearly impossible to get on the open market and there are nearly no "magic," shops even in major cities. Magic items are typically awarded from adventuring. I give the players useful magic items specifically created with their characters in mind and I mix in enough "fluff," to make it appear like they were randomly generated. Most magic items are single use items like potions and scrolls. Magic weapons and armor are rare and unique. Even a +1 sword has it's own detailed history. Magic items can be traded with other adventuring groups and within power groups.

For instance, a rogue who finds a set of magical lockpicks can network with the local thieves guild to see if anyone has the coin to buy them but there is no storefront that deals specifically in magic items. Some power groups also produce magic items for their members as a way to provide incentives for their members and help them complete important tasks. For instance, a group of revolutionaries all carry rings that allow them to cast a silenced Glibness once per day.


Loengrin wrote:


So, what I wanted to say was that I am under the impression that a lot of players think that magic objects are a due and not a reward anymore... Am I the only one who feel that way ?

I would say it should work however you want in your game with the following caveats:

1) If you're choosing to deviate much from the rulebook's suggested wealth by level, you need to take that into account when designing/balancing your campaign/encounters. A low magic campaign is fine; a low magic campaign where the encounters are balanced for normal magic is probably going to be frustrating for your players.

The players in one 2E game I played in got into a more or less campaign ending argument with its DM over this exact thing -- he had decided he wanted to run a low magic campaign without adjusting his encounters, and we found it extremely frustrating to fight monsters that needed a +3 weapon to hit (without any option to escape) when none of us had ever seen so much as a +1 weapon. When we complained, he took it as, we wanted lots of treasure without having to work for it.

2) If you're choosing to deviate much from the rulebook's suggested wealth by level, you need to warn your players at the start of the campaign. I personally would probably not play a fighter in a game in which I couldn't more or less pick what magic items I'd have; I'd rather play something else. Other people could and would have fun with it. As long as you set expectations accordingly it's back on the players to make a character they'll have fun with.

I'd say the same thing about most high-level campaign decisions, though -- if my DM were writing a campaign in which zero of the serious villians were vulnerable to sneak attack, I'd sure want to know that before I rolled a rogue.


Dire Mongoose wrote:
Loengrin wrote:


So, what I wanted to say was that I am under the impression that a lot of players think that magic objects are a due and not a reward anymore... Am I the only one who feel that way ?

I would say it should work however you want in your game with the following caveats:

1) If you're choosing to deviate much from the rulebook's suggested wealth by level, you need to take that into account when designing/balancing your campaign/encounters. A low magic campaign is fine; a low magic campaign where the encounters are balanced for normal magic is probably going to be frustrating for your players.

The players in one 2E game I played in got into a more or less campaign ending argument with its DM over this exact thing -- he had decided he wanted to run a low magic campaign without adjusting his encounters, and we found it extremely frustrating to fight monsters that needed a +3 weapon to hit (without any option to escape) when none of us had ever seen so much as a +1 weapon. When we complained, he took it as, we wanted lots of treasure without having to work for it.

2) If you're choosing to deviate much from the rulebook's suggested wealth by level, you need to warn your players at the start of the campaign. I personally would probably not play a fighter in a game in which I couldn't more or less pick what magic items I'd have; I'd rather play something else. Other people could and would have fun with it. As long as you set expectations accordingly it's back on the players to make a character they'll have fun with.

I'd say the same thing about most high-level campaign decisions, though -- if my DM were writing a campaign in which zero of the serious villians were vulnerable to sneak attack, I'd sure want to know that before I rolled a rogue.

Good points. I tend to mitigate the above by beefing up the player's stats. All of my players are on a 32 point buy and have excellent stats. I also adhere to the suggested wealth values, however magic items are much less likely to be "flashy," and are more mundane e.g. a +2 keen longsword vs a +2 acid burst long sword. My PCs are hovering around 8th level and I am not planning on distributing +3 or greater weapons until they reach 12th level so when they finally do get the really cool magic weapons and wondrous items they will really resonate.


I am pretty unforgiving as a DM when it comes to things such as magic objects and wealth in general.

Most magic items my players get are objects with very specific functions and usually tailored to particular moments of the campaign. However, I always make those items flexible in their nature, in hopes that players will find creative ways to use them in situations completely different than the ones they were originally designed for. For example, in our current Pathfinder campaign, the players had to recompose an old osirian orrery as part of a puzzle, and the central piece was a hollow bronze sphere simulating the sun that, when struck by concentrated sunlight or a daylight-equivalent effect (which at that time they had to produce through a magic staff they found nearby), gleamed with such strength that they had to make Reflex saves to avoid being momentarily blinded. Several sessions later, while resting in Katapesh, one of the players asked me if he could go out to find a glassblower that could craft him a bowl-like mirror, which while expensive, I allowed. Later that session -when dealing with a bunch of ritual assassins-, they strapped the orb on top of the barbarian's head (who has ungodly amounts of HP, and Blindfight), set up the reflective bowl aiming at him and ignited the magical staff, bliding almost everyone (including themselves), which gave the barbarian the time to split every single enemy in half.

In rare occasions, I roll on the random item generation tables, but mostly when dealing with scrolls and potions. They did get an Immovable Rod last session this way, though, but that is the kind of item these guys love (they are of the "Why do it the easy way, when you can do it the STYLISH way?" type).

Wealth in my games goes the same route, and my players hardly ever find more than a couple of hundred gold coins in a dungeon. Instead, they have to work creatively for it. For example, in the same campaign, the characters encountered a trapped room with a portal to the Paraelemental Plane of Salt (I use a mixture of the Golarion and Planescape cosmologies). After dealing with it and the dungeon in question, the rogue began filling every single pocked he had with salt, which he later sold for quite a handsome amount. Several sessions later, once he had the Leadership feat and enough people under his tutelage, he returned to the dungeon and set up a salt-extracting operation which so far has paid for two Raise Dead spells, a small keep next to an oasis (and all the facilities attached to it, such as a date plantation and a tiny temple of Desna, resident priest included), a hefty bribe for an Infernal Contractor and enough adventuring gear for 25 men crossing the Brazen Peaks to assault a kobold fortress. Not counting all the operational costs for running the operation itself (which employs around 100 people, among extractors, guards, caravans, traders, tariffs, a sea ship between Katapesh and Absalom, and a couple of scribes in each city), as well as the occasional spike in costs when more than just salt pours through the portal (which the rogue had further evaluated by hiring a wizard expert in Conjuration magic, who charged him for installing "Infallible Transdimensional Sustaining Pylons" that allegedly keep the portal from closing, although he was just scamming him as the portal is perfectly stable and has been open for a couple of centuries prior to discovery already).

So while I am a very cheap DM, I am very collaborative when it comes to the players finding creative ways to deal with their lack of resources.


Klaus van der Kroft wrote:

I am pretty unforgiving as a DM when it comes to things such as magic objects and wealth in general.

Most magic items my players get are objects with very specific functions and usually tailored to particular moments of the campaign. However, I always make those items flexible in their nature, in hopes that players will find creative ways to use them in situations completely different than the ones they were originally designed for. For example, in our current Pathfinder campaign, the players had to recompose an old osirian orrery as part of a puzzle, and the central piece was a hollow bronze sphere simulating the sun that, when struck by concentrated sunlight or a daylight-equivalent effect (which at that time they had to produce through a magic staff they found nearby), gleamed with such strength that they had to make Reflex saves to avoid being momentarily blinded. Several sessions later, while resting in Katapesh, one of the players asked me if he could go out to find a glassblower that could craft him a bowl-like mirror, which while expensive, I allowed. Later that session -when dealing with a bunch of ritual assassins-, they strapped the orb on top of the barbarian's head (who has ungodly amounts of HP, and Blindfight), set up the reflective bowl aiming at him and ignited the magical staff, bliding almost everyone (including themselves), which gave the barbarian the time to split every single enemy in half.

In rare occasions, I roll on the random item generation tables, but mostly when dealing with scrolls and potions. They did get an Immovable Rod last session this way, though, but that is the kind of item these guys love (they are of the "Why do it the easy way, when you can do it the STYLISH way?" type).

Wealth in my games goes the same route, and my players hardly ever find more than a couple of hundred gold coins in a dungeon. Instead, they have to work creatively for it. For example, in the same campaign, the characters encountered a trapped room with a portal to the Paraelemental Plane of...

This is an interesting approach. I have a player that would really appreicate this kind of campaign. Once when my PCs took out a cave of goblins they found a sizeable amount of gold and a room full of copper. Rather than leave the copper one of my PCs forced each captured goblin to carry a sack of it to a local bank.

Liberty's Edge

I tend to operate on a system that offers a bit of flexibility, but maintains a bit of order when it comes to me controlling my game's power level. Generally speaking: it's sort of a guideline, and there's no guarantee the game will end up going with the flow[chart], but I certainly tend to try to keep it within the parameters I set for myself if only because it helps me keep the power of the players - and the game itself - under my control; it goes a little something like this:

  • Lvls 01-5: +1 Maximum with a level-appropriate enchantment, extremely minor artifacts/accessories that offer little to no mechanical benefits (think a magic comb what'll make you pretty and such, and may grant a +1 to persuade in certain situations).
  • Lvls 05-8: +2 Maximum with 1 powerful, or 1 moderate, or 2 minor enchantments, level-appropriate artifacts/accessories with moderate mechanical benefits.
  • Lvls 09-12: +3 Maximum, etc.
  • Lvls 12-16: +4 Maximum, etc.
  • Lvls 17-20: +5 Maximum, etc.

It should be noted that while I primarily run/play in high-magic settings (mainly Faerun and Gloraion), and I am a huge proponent of crafted magic items, I tend to keep the available magic rare; just because a Red Wizard can make a +3 Flaming Bastard Sword in 2d4 months doesn't necessarily mean he will, especially if you're not a regular and trusted customer. Additionally, I mostly take the time to create magic items myself, rather than relying on a random-roll table; I really truly feel that players appreciate it far more when Slashos the Barbarian finds a paired set of Thundering- and Shocking-enchanted handaxes that they can put to use, as opposed to yet another +1 [ludicrous enchantment] [ludicrous exotic weapon] that they'll never use and will only be able to sell for a pittance of its actual value. Finally, I do not believe, not for one moment, that you should ever dig through a monster's treasure stash and find a +1 anything; he should be using that item against you with impunity, and you should pry your prize from his cold, dead, scaly/greasy/slimy hands. The only exception to this is the Dragon's Hoard.

Post Script: I forgot to mention wealth. I tend to treat wealth the way the ancient civilizations of our world did: in relative terms. You don't carry around 10,000 gold, its far more reasonable to cart around several Ingots/Gems/Precious Stones/Materials that are far more easily explainable than walking around with nearly 500lbs. of coinage in several large sacks. Buy an oxcart (or buy a minor bag of holding), put your goods on/in it, and roll on down the avenue. Again, the only real exception to this is the Dragon's Hoard, but then again, you can always buy another oxcart.


My philosophy is that if you're going to break WPL, you break it by going higher. WPL restricts martial classes, not the already stupid powerful casters. Denying magical items just hurts barbarians more. A low magic world is not the same as a low magical item world, and for good reason.


I too tend to be unforgiving when it comes to magic items. In most of my campaigns, "magicmarts" simply don't exist and there is no concept of going to a town to 'buy magic items'. Player characters instead receive magic items through quests, as loot, as rewards, as gifts or through plot-events.

In theory, PCs can also try to create magic items on their own, but my system for doing so is not complete at this time (I dislike the default system of paying money (PFRPG) or money and XP (D&D) to do so) - I have ideas, but have not crystalized them. I would, however, quickly belabor to complete the system if any of my players exhibited an interest, direct or indirect, in crafting their own magic items.

On top of that, I completely ignore the 'wealth by level' guidelines - I don't usually even look at them.

Than again, I have modified the game to a significant extent and give the PCs other boosts ranging from higher ability score (a generous rolling system) to special abilities (e.g. the fighter character has various resistances as well as some additional weapon-related abilities) - some granted at the beginning and some granted through story-based events. One could say that story-based special abilities that I custom design for characters and give out as rewards take the place of magical items to some extent. Even as far as magic items themselves go, probably 50% of them are unique and custom-designed by me, the other 50% being the standard ones.

There is nothing inherently wrong with a game that permits trading of magic items, but its not the type of flavor I want in most of my games, so I usually don't run them that way.


This topic is kind of a landmine, as there are some pretty wildly varying styles of play out there, and many folks are convinced the way they play is the only way possible or the "best" way. Unfortunately, the average wealth by level chart in the Core Rulebook has been misused by many to be more than the very general (and useful in that way) guideline it was meant to be. Many players now feel that it is their "right" to have that much stuff at that level, and pass judgment on their DMs if they are lagging behind (curious that we never hear complaints from those who are receiving more than the chart says they should). The standard CRs have also been designed assuming that characters have pretty generous access to useful magic items. In addition, Pathfinder made it significantly easier and cheaper to create your own magic items. The combined result is a more high-powered game, with more magic items, and somewhat of an expectation amongst many players that the items they want will be readily available.

However, you don't have to play it that way if you don't want to. Consult with your players to see what they want in a campaign, and if they are OK with a lower power level, go for it. Just remember that you might have to dial back the encounters a bit and pay special attention to creatures/challenges that require magic items to harm/overcome, either cutting them out or limiting them to occasional appearances.

Personally, my players and I despise the whole "magic mart" idea as pretty cheesy, and every campaign we have run has had some significant limits on what magic items (or spellcasters willing to create them on demand) are available on the open market at any given time, even in large cities. Not that powerful items aren't available at all, but there is some randomness on what is available, and it is far more common to win a powerful item in battle or pluck it from a treasure hoard than it is to buy it or order it made. That said, I do like to make sure the players are rewarded with appropriate cool stuff when they achieve something noteworthy, but they usually earn it with sweat and blood, rather than gold and silver.


There once was a time when I ignored the 'wealth by level' guidelines. I simply gave and took when I saw fit for the fun and playability of the story.

Then I decided to grow up and 'play by the rules'. My players quickly became bored with the monotony of such a rigid system of imposed 'fun'. This also caused me to be bored running the games.

I have since gone back to the days of ignoring 'wealth by level'. After all, it's a game. We all get to be kids when gaming.

My advice, do it however you want. Do what's fun for your players and fun for you.


The problem is that, as I mentioned, non-casters need magical items. They need a weapon that can penetrate DR, they need AC items to keep them competitive with monsters they need an item that lets them fly in later levels - that's a big one, because without that, they literally become useless.

Casters don't need any of those.

As I see it, WPL are there as a minimum for the sake of non-casters.


Phazzle wrote:


Good points. I tend to mitigate the above by beefing up the player's stats. All of my players are on a 32 point buy and have excellent stats. I also adhere to the suggested wealth values, however magic items are much less likely to be "flashy," and are more mundane e.g. a +2 keen longsword vs a +2 acid burst long sword. My PCs are hovering around 8th level and I am not planning on distributing +3 or greater weapons until they reach 12th level so when they finally do get the really cool magic weapons and wondrous items they will really resonate.

What if the players take the item creation feats?


ProfessorCirno wrote:

The problem is that, as I mentioned, non-casters need magical items. They need a weapon that can penetrate DR, they need AC items to keep them competitive with monsters they need an item that lets them fly in later levels - that's a big one, because without that, they literally become useless.

Casters don't need any of those.

As I see it, WPL are there as a minimum for the sake of non-casters.

I think it is inherent in the changes you need to make if you are significantly limiting the power and availability of magic items, that you then have to either limit the incidence of monsters with DR or reduce/cut out their DR altogether. Easy enough to do.

Also, if you feel spellcasters are too dominant (I don't, at least not until the somewhat ridiculous high levels, balanced by their vulnerability at low levels), easy enough to up spell resistance and/or increase the incidence of such creatures, or even make them immune/resistant to certain spells.

Dark Archive

Casters need spell selection and versatility.

Restrict items - and that includes available spells and spell selection.
If you take care of DR item requirements and also hit casters on available spells - same goes for divine casters by omitting the availability of some spells from the 3.5 SP - then you have a balanced low-magic world, even as the PCs grow in power.

You can't restrict magic items without restricting spell selection and variety. Casters need to work harder for anything beyond the two freebies per level – just like everyone else.


ProfessorCirno wrote:

The problem is that, as I mentioned, non-casters need magical items. They need a weapon that can penetrate DR, they need AC items to keep them competitive with monsters they need an item that lets them fly in later levels - that's a big one, because without that, they literally become useless.

Casters don't need any of those.

As I see it, WPL are there as a minimum for the sake of non-casters.

I agree, and if a DM ever runs a low magic item campaign I will probably play a caster.


ProfessorCirno wrote:

The problem is that, as I mentioned, non-casters need magical items. They need a weapon that can penetrate DR, they need AC items to keep them competitive with monsters they need an item that lets them fly in later levels - that's a big one, because without that, they literally become useless.

Casters don't need any of those.

As I see it, WPL are there as a minimum for the sake of non-casters.

They will only need it if the DM puts them in a position where, A) They have to face such challenges, and B) There is no alternative to magic items.

However, any DM tinkering with, or just outright ignoring (as I do) the WPL rules, has to be aware that this will have an impact on the resources and capacities of the party, particularly of those character that have no other native ability to do so (such as Fighters). If you are not going to hand magic weapons to the party, then you don't make them face an incorporeal enemy; or, if you do, you will provide them with an alternative way of dealing with it.

That is what I do, and works pretty good. My players very rarely play spellcasters (save for the player who always plays a Cleric), so they don't often have access to spells that bypass supernatural protections or things like that. However, if they are clever enough, they will always find a way to deal with it, in manners I personally feel are far more interesting than just "My +1 sword can harm incorporeal creatures".

I do agree, however, that it is a very bad idea to ignore the WPL rules without introducing other adjustments to the game (mostly through the way of increasing the CR of encounters that are designed with the assumption of certain baseline magic items).

Liberty's Edge

Klaus van der Kroft wrote:
If you are not going to hand magic weapons to the party, then you don't make them face an incorporeal enemy; or, if you do, you will provide them with an alternative way of dealing with it.

Words of wisdom. I cannot begin to explain how frustrating it is to find yourself on the receiving end of that sort of treatment.

OK OK Maybe I can...:
I distinctly remember a Shadowrun game that ended halfway through the first session; during character creation the GM decided he did not want any of the PCs to be Spellcasters or Deckers of any variety, we made our characters and went on our merry way slaughtering a corporate drug-production facility before being blocked by a twelve-foot thick composite metal firewall that we were ill-equipped to get through, and one tiny computer terminal (a terminal nobody in the party had any clue how to use with any real efficiency), after about thirty minutes of "Can I do this? No? OK, how about thi- No?" we all stood up, thanked the GM for his time, and walked out.


wraithstrike wrote:
Phazzle wrote:


Good points. I tend to mitigate the above by beefing up the player's stats. All of my players are on a 32 point buy and have excellent stats. I also adhere to the suggested wealth values, however magic items are much less likely to be "flashy," and are more mundane e.g. a +2 keen longsword vs a +2 acid burst long sword. My PCs are hovering around 8th level and I am not planning on distributing +3 or greater weapons until they reach 12th level so when they finally do get the really cool magic weapons and wondrous items they will really resonate.

What if the players take the item creation feats?

Glad you asked. I allow players to take item creation feats but I consult with the player on each item and each item must meet my approval before I let it get made. My players are usually pretty reasonable about things and try to fit items in with the feel of the campaign. I also throw some obligatory roleplaying in for the materials acquisition to make the item creation feel more realistic e.g. "You have to get your hands on some cold iron to make your ghost-touch longsword."


Phazzle wrote:
Dire Mongoose wrote:
Loengrin wrote:


So, what I wanted to say was that I am under the impression that a lot of players think that magic objects are a due and not a reward anymore... Am I the only one who feel that way ?

I would say it should work however you want in your game with the following caveats:

1) If you're choosing to deviate much from the rulebook's suggested wealth by level, you need to take that into account when designing/balancing your campaign/encounters. A low magic campaign is fine; a low magic campaign where the encounters are balanced for normal magic is probably going to be frustrating for your players.

The players in one 2E game I played in got into a more or less campaign ending argument with its DM over this exact thing -- he had decided he wanted to run a low magic campaign without adjusting his encounters, and we found it extremely frustrating to fight monsters that needed a +3 weapon to hit (without any option to escape) when none of us had ever seen so much as a +1 weapon. When we complained, he took it as, we wanted lots of treasure without having to work for it.

2) If you're choosing to deviate much from the rulebook's suggested wealth by level, you need to warn your players at the start of the campaign. I personally would probably not play a fighter in a game in which I couldn't more or less pick what magic items I'd have; I'd rather play something else. Other people could and would have fun with it. As long as you set expectations accordingly it's back on the players to make a character they'll have fun with.

I'd say the same thing about most high-level campaign decisions, though -- if my DM were writing a campaign in which zero of the serious villians were vulnerable to sneak attack, I'd sure want to know that before I rolled a rogue.

Good points. I tend to mitigate the above by beefing up the player's stats. All of my players are on a 32 point buy and have excellent stats. I also adhere to the suggested wealth values, however...

If you go strictly by the wealth by level chart you should have enough wealth to have +3 weapons till 11th level at the earliest. At 18,000 gp at 1/4 of the wealth by level on weapons means 11th when you should have around 80,000 gp in value to afford that +3 weapon. I tend to allow +3 a little earlier though by ignoring the 1/4 on weapons suggestion as that for creating character of that level. But it does give you bench mark on what players should have.


Brian Bachman wrote:
Also, if you feel spellcasters are too dominant (I don't, at least not until the somewhat ridiculous high levels, balanced by their vulnerability at low levels), easy enough to up spell resistance and/or increase the incidence of such creatures, or even make them immune/resistant to certain spells.

I don't think what he's saying is exactly that casters are too dominant so much as that low-magic-item-availability disproportionately affects them, and if those are the conditions and they're not otherwise corrected-for, casters will be dominant because they have built-in answers to problems that non-casters rely on magic items to solve.

Easiest token example, flight. Past a certain level, a caster will never fall into a pit trap again. Past a certain level, neither will a fighter (in a campaign in which he has a pretty good pick of magic items). If you're setting up your game such that the first one of those statements is still the case and the second isn't, yeah that's going to skew the ability of those two kinds of characters to contribute.


I think, at least for me, it is more a question of the flavor of my magic items and less of their actual power.

For instance. I have no problem handing a +2 Greataxe of Cleaving to a PC at 12th level. I might even rule that it is not necessarily "magical," it is just superbly crafted and as such is lighter through the hilt and heavier at the head accounting for the cleaving ability.

A figurine of wondrous power, however, is clearly a magic item, no matter which way you cut it. Such items exist in my campaign, but they are only posessed by the wealthiest and most powerful adventurers.

Liberty's Edge

Dire Mongoose wrote:
Past a certain level, a caster will never fall into a pit trap again. Past a certain level, neither will a fighter (in a campaign in which he has a pretty good pick of magic items). If you're setting up your game such that the first one of those statements is still the case and the second isn't, yeah that's going to skew the ability of those two kinds of characters to contribute.

I'd argue that the caster will only be allowed the advantage of 'never falling into the pit again' if he takes the time to acquire the spell that will allow him said advantage; lacking the spell, he's likely still going to fall into the pit regardless of his level. A fighter will at least have a decent chance at a save, and the HP to absorb the damage.

Just because a dwarf built a very nice bridge, it doesn't mean that any dwarf anywhere can do just the same anytime they wish.

Edit: I realize this argument doesn't necessarily relate to the topic at hand, but I feel its worth pointing out regardless.


Sheboygen wrote:


I'd argue that the caster will only be allowed the advantage of 'never falling into the pit again' if he takes the time to acquire the spell that will allow him said advantage; lacking the spell, he's likely still going to fall into the pit regardless of his level.

That's technically true and yet... in the practical sense irrelevant.

Past a certain point, if he falls into the pit, he's doing it wrong. He should be flying basically all day. If he's not, you can't balance the game around his bad choices any more than you can balance the game by assuming that fighters will only wield simple weapons.


ProfessorCirno wrote:
My philosophy is that if you're going to break WPL, you break it by going higher. WPL restricts martial classes, not the already stupid powerful casters. Denying magical items just hurts barbarians more. A low magic world is not the same as a low magical item world, and for good reason.

While I'm hesitant to use low magic unless I have an alternate method of giving characters the needed +s periodically (intrinsic bonuses to favored weapons, saves etc) it can be done if the DM is judicious in extreme.

Low WPL can favor the Casters especially if they engage in selfish play (buffing only themselves) but the more critical problem is that low WPL generally makes equivalent CR encounters much more difficult than they would be otherwise. Lower PC defenses (saves and AC), less damage dealing capacity (no magical weapons to bypass DR), lower casting stats (maintaining a Fox's Cunning for multiple combats is cost prohibitive without Persistent spell) all mean that many foes are going to be much harder than they would otherwise be.

Further because so many of the daily resources will need to be spent on buffing that should've been handled by magic items you tend to exacerbate the issues with the 15 minute adventuring day.

Liberty's Edge

Dire Mongoose wrote:

That's technically true and yet... in the practical sense irrelevant.

Past a certain point, if he falls into the pit, he's doing it wrong. He should be flying basically all day. If he's not, you can't balance the game around his bad choices any more than you can balance the game by assuming that fighters will only wield simple weapons.

I disagree on both counts.

Firstly: It's completely relevant, in that certain casters will never have access to Fly/Feather Fall/what have you; restricted schools can be a pain at times, but them's the breaks. Furthermore, the spell Fly only lasts a maximum of 20 minutes (at caster level 20) without the aid of Extend Spell - which would increase its duration to a measly 40 minutes (hardly enough time to fly all day) for the cost of a 4th spell level slot. Further-furthermore any item that would grant the spell as a spell-like ability/free spell per day/charge would be as limited if not moreso than the caster's ability. Realistically you may be able to squeeze out two hours of flight in a day tops (and that's with a generous application of items/scrolls, and far too many spell slots dedicated to doing so); most of that two hours (or less) would be better spent scouting/doing recon out of doors instead of flying through a dungeon for fear of falling into a pit trap the rogue should have located/marked/disabled/found a workaround for.

Secondly: No choice is a bad choice if the choice helps you realize your concept. My Evoker does just fine without Transmutation and Illusion spells, thank you very much.


Sheboygen wrote:

Furthermore, the spell Fly only lasts a maximum of 20 minutes (at caster level 20) without the aid of Extend Spell - which would increase its duration to a measly 40 minutes (hardly enough time to fly all day) for the cost of a 4th spell level slot. Realistically you may be able to squeeze out two hours of flight in a day tops (and that's with a generous application of items/scrolls, and far too many spell slots dedicated to doing so); most of that two hours (or less) would be better spent scouting/doing recon out of doors instead of flying through a dungeon for fear of falling into a pit trap the rogue should have located/marked/disabled/found a workaround for.

May I introduce you to someone? Sheboygen, this is Overland Flight. Overland Flight, this is Sheboygen. I'm surprised the two of you haven't met:

Overland Flight
School transmutation; Level sorcerer/wizard 5

Components: V, S

Range personal

Target you

Duration 1 hour/level

This spell functions like a fly spell, except you can fly at a speed of 40 feet (30 feet if wearing medium or heavy armor, or if carrying a medium or heavy load) with a bonus on Fly skill checks equal to half your caster level. When using this spell for long-distance movement, you can hustle without taking nonlethal damage (a forced march still requires Constitution checks). This means you can cover 64 miles in an 8-hour period of flight (or 48 miles at a speed of 30 feet).


More to the point, I'd invite folks to do the following:
Make a 5th, 10th, 15th, and 20th level Fighter or Rogue with no magic items (i.e., with just masterwork everything)
Using the guidelines in the 'DPR olympics thread', compute his DPR
then add a standard set of magic gear to each according to wealth by level.
You'll notice that the DPR of the geared fighter is immensely higher.

Now, do the same with a Wizard, Sorceror, or Cleric or Druid
You'll notice they are hurt much, much less.

Notice also that the saves of high level characters vs the DC's of high level spells appear to have the presumption that pretty much everyone past a certain level will be wearing a cloak of resistance (the 25k for a cloak of resistance +5 shows up in nearly everyone's gear mix pretty fast in my experience). The absolute worst shows up when you have 'magic poor' campaigns wherein the casters can craft wondrous item to make their headbands and tomes (and perhaps the craft rod for their metamagic rods)---you have save dc's that are the same as in a normal game but save bonuses that are substantially lower.

Put simply, you CAN'T simply change one thing---almost any change will have significant downstream impact. If you want a magic poor game, you need coherent reasons why it is magic poor beyond just a dislike of the 'Christmas Tree effect'. These reasons should have the effect of mitigating the caster supremacy that low levels of magic items would tend to produce.

RPG Superstar 2012 Top 32

In my game I handle magic items as simply as I can. There are a handful of types of items that are essentially always available in significant towns, but these are usually minor potions, a handful of enchanted items (ie. in the drow city on the underside of the floating continent they almost always will have a pair of slippers of spiderclimbing and various other 'don't fall to your doom' items on hand.) and I'll know what enchanters are in town. In my current campaign the party is based out of a major trade city with a dwarven mining/metalworking enclave nearby, one of the preeminent mage academies in the region and a fairly significant temple where clerics go to retire and train their successors in town. This gives them plenty of opportunity to have enchanters make custom items, though they barely hit level 2, which means they haven't had the funds available to take advantage of this yet.

I will say, however, I tend to completely ignore the 'wealth by level' table, except in a handful of circumstances. It is there for new characters to bring in an appropriately equipped character and...actually, that's it. My groups tend to get a lot more gear than normal, as I always give my NPCs whatever gear they happen to need for their role. I've had a 5th level party get their hands on an iron flask before, as it made sense for their opponent. But again, this is just how I run things.


Dire Mongoose wrote:
Sheboygen wrote:


I'd argue that the caster will only be allowed the advantage of 'never falling into the pit again' if he takes the time to acquire the spell that will allow him said advantage; lacking the spell, he's likely still going to fall into the pit regardless of his level.
That's technically true and yet... in the practical sense irrelevant.

It is relevant in games with some styles of low magic play, since it may be very difficult for the wizard to find more spells than they receive from their level advancement.

Also, in low magic campaigns, it is possible to restrict the choice of spells gained through level advancement or to institute a rule that he only gets to chose one spell and I select the second one for him (I don't actually restrict that choice, but the wizard doesn't seem overly powerful compared to the rest of the party, so there is no need), etc., etc.

Dire Mongoose wrote:
]Past a certain point, if he falls into the pit, he's doing it wrong. He should be flying basically all day. If he's not, you can't balance the game around his bad choices any more than you can balance the game by assuming that fighters will only wield simple weapons.

You cannot balance the ruleset on that, that much is true, but if you know your own players won't do that, you can use it to balance your own game.

Anyway, my point is that I do periodically read about this issue - that taking away magic item shopping renders non-casters 'useless', but in my own games, where I do prevent magic-item shopping, I don't seem to have that problem.

I think it is just a matter of campaign/style playstyle, as well as assumptions. For example, just because I don't allow him to buy magic items, does not mean that the fighter will not receive items (as gifts, rewards, etc.) that will enable him to do cool stuff. Furthermore, he may receive story-based special abilities that may also compensate. Last but not least, I try to run a dynamic world, where things are happening and villains have their plans even with PC inaction. This creates at least some sense of urgency and tends to favor non-spellcasters, since their abilities don't tend to have limited uses. Spellcasters must therefore be judicious in the use of their abilities to keep up - the dynamics of the world would make it unviable to rest after every encounter to be at full power as I keep reading happens in some groups. Not that there is anything wrong with that, but I think it explains why different playstyles work well with different rules and can get away with different things.

Liberty's Edge

knightofstyx wrote:

Overland Flight

School transmutation; Level sorcerer/wizard 5

Components: V, S

Range personal

Target you

Duration 1 hour/level

Hi overland flight, nice to meet you.

Oh, you're still a Transmutation spell? Darn. Your utility is still limited when your caster is inside a 10' wide, 10' tall hallway and is in fact not located in/around an out-of doors environment? Dang. You may or may not have been included in the generic "Fly/Feather Fall/what have you"? Drat. Your name is Overland Flight instead of Dungeon Flight, and you're intended to be used to allow one person cover great distances over a small amount of time? Damn. I wish you were enough to make my observations seem paltry and pointless, but alas, you're just not the spell for me.

Come on man, I used Fly as an example because it was easy, the rest of my post was almost completely ignored. If you don't have access to Transmutation you don't have access to Transmutation, nuff said. Even if you did, great, you're flying all day, nothing about that involves playing Pathfinder in a "right" or "wrong" way. Either or, if I saw a man in a dress, and he was rapidly flying down my trapped hallway: I'd hit him with a judicious application of Dispel Magic right as he flew over my spiked pit trap.

Edit: Diffrn't strokes for diffrn't folks. This is about handing out magic items and the way it affects the world, not the utility of a spell a wizard may or may not have access to. My two cents are in the pot on both subjects, let's get back to our regularly scheduled programming:

Who likes my nifty little table-thing? It makes sense, really, I swear. Feel free to try it out.

RPG Superstar 2015 Top 8

In the last two campaigns I ran, I had players actually count up the value of their gear and say, "We're below WBL." With a current player, it was simply an observation. With a past player, it was somewhat of a veiled complaint--but I also tried to make it clear that I was aware of that and tailored challenges appropriately, which when past player realized that, he stopped complaining.

I don't try to deprive players of gear but I also like to have gear make sense. If the party fights 5 non-spellcaster guards, they are not going to have a robe of the archmagi on them. I am not going to put 200,000 gp in a box in the middle of the street just because the party is by some slightly arbitrary standard short 200,000 gp of treasure (I also have a problem in that despite running a high level campaign, I still have a bad habit of thinking 1,000 gp is a lot of money when really they should be finding an average of 10,000 gp, etc.)

I think where we end up with low "WBL" issues is that I think our games see fewer combats than "typical" games (whatever the heck a typical game is) so there are fewer "monster drops" so to speak. I do try to hide treasure caches around--again, where they would make sense--but sometimes the party finds them, sometimes they don't. And I do feel like you need to work for your treasure, that's just me.

Also, I think there is a problem in WBL guidelines in that suggested treasure for monsters and NPCs (remember the core rulebook advises giving far less gear to NPCs than party members) is so much less than what parties "should" receive at a given level that you need to bulk it up in treasure caches or something else--but there are few guidelines out there on how to do that while still keeping the story from being a flat out monty haul and make good narrative sense and be exciting etc. etc. etc.

That said, I don't stress out too much if party members are "over" or "under" WBL -- for me it's a matter of specifically considering, what IS the party capable of and making sure appropriate challenges are designed. I try to remember if someone is being frustrated with being weak in a particular area and bear that in mind when designing the next treasure cache.

I think one problem especially with higher level encounters is that many monsters are designed with high saves or high DCs, assuming, effectively that PCs probably have save-boost items and the like (there's a whole huge thread about this from awhile back). I would say that if a party seems especially "under-equipped" by the core rule guidelines, to simply drop some of the save DCs, etc. The "young" templates, etc. in the Bestiary help.


EWHM wrote:


Put simply, you CAN'T simply change one thing---almost any change will have significant downstream impact. If you want a magic poor game, you need coherent reasons why it is magic poor beyond just a dislike of the 'Christmas Tree effect'. These reasons should have the effect of mitigating the caster supremacy that low levels of magic items would tend to produce.

Basically if you scale back magic items you need to introduce intrinsic bonuses in their place. This is the methodology used in the 4e Dark Sun setting (a low magic gritty setting). This allows you to reduce the dependency on magic items while effectively keeping character stats equivalent to where the baseline math assumes they will be.

The way I see it, if an item is so critical that you basically need it at a given level (cloaks of resistance) in order to survive vs equivalent CR threats then either let people have access to the item via magic item or through an intrinsic level based bonus to saves.

Otherwise there are a ton of variables you need to adjust. It's not just nerfing spells (because Save DCs are suddenly much more difficult to match) it's nerfing monsters (or choosing very simple combat brutes) because they have SLAs that can effectively destroy a low magic party.

In other words it's a lot of work and while it can be done (based upon anecdotal evidence) I think it's placing a huge burden on the DM and basically taking an already taxed system and pushing it to it's breaking point.

However not everyone seems to mind big disparities between casters and noncasters so the balance issues that have been brought up aren't universally despised.


Sheboygen wrote:
Diffrn't strokes for diffrn't folks.

I was just pointing out that said wizard could indeed fly all day long, effectively.

As for your table, I actually use something kind of like it in my head. I just take the average party level and divide by two. That's the maximum effective enhancement bonus that weapons and armor can have at that level. So if the party is averaging out at 8th level, the max weapon/armor available is a +4 (be it a +3 flaming longsword or a +4 light steel shield.)

Admittedly I don't hand max level items out very often and do restrict wizard spell selection heavily.


Sheboygen wrote:


I disagree on both counts.

Firstly: It's completely relevant, in that certain casters will never have access to Fly/Feather Fall/what have you; restricted schools can be a pain at times, but them's the breaks.

Which casters would these be? Restricted schools essentially aren't, in Pathfinder. Your evoker with transmutation barred can still prepare transmutation spells. Whether or not that was a good design decision is a whole other discussion.

Sheboygen wrote:


Secondly: No choice is a bad choice if the choice helps you realize your concept. My Evoker does just fine without Transmutation and Illusion spells, thank you very much.

Hey, play whatever you want -- but the game shouldn't be balanced around mechanically bad choices. If you do it that way, then mechanically smart characters become gods.


It's interesting how different people view things. For instance I have never thought of giving/receiving the Wealth Per Level amount of treasure as a reward, anymore then I would consider receiving a feat every other level or an ability score increase every fourth as a reward. I can see the idea of it being an in character reward, the theoretical carrot that pushes an adventuring party to do the often downright suicidal things they do. Yet the game system is so heavily built around the idea of having all that gear that it seems almost unfair.

Much like others have mentioned before me, my personal approach as a DM has always been that the Wealth Per Level is the bare minimum amount of treasure (in whatever form it may take) that each PC in the game will receive. Further I rarely consider anything that can only once to be part of a character's total wealth. Perhaps I might count some of it as spent if I had a player whose character produced an obsessive amount of potions or scrolls. Through I've yet to have that problem.

The campaign that I last ran was more of an urban style game, taking place in an the heart of the oldest nation in an old world. Most of the adventures were centered around working as agents for hire and the settings mostly consisted of the two largest and advanced cities on the world. Because of the nature of the campaign I gave out almost of the PCs wealth as coinage, raw metals, jewels, and trade goods. PC could then barter with the Guild of Artificers (not the class but rather a massive and ancient group of magic users that collected and crafted magical items) for their magical items.

Many common low-value items could be bought outright from the local guildhalls, things like useful potions, scrolls, common +1 weapons and the like. Medium level items could be bought or commissioned at a regional tower but truly dangerous items would require the PCs to pass a test of integrity, lest the guide gain a reputation for supplying people of an evil bent with their goods. High end items had to be requested from the guild's headquarters and normal come with some strings attached for the most powerful of items.

I know most people don't care for the idea of a magic shop but my players seemed to enjoy being able to decide how their wealth was spent them-selves, rather then having to strip search their enemies. As for in game justification for such a thing: In my homebrewed world the guild started over a thousand years ago as a loose collection of wizards that sought to gather and safely store objects of great power but as time went on the begun to sell the lower powered stuff for resources until eventually the business end took over. This is also the in game reason for why you can't sell anything for more then fifty percent of what it is worth, the guild has an almost complete monopoly on the magic trade.

I also encourage player to take the magic item creation feats, and I love the flavor of the Master Craftsman feat.

Recently, as a player, I have been on the other side of coin. Part of a group where the DM seemed to have this overwhelming fear that if the PCs had more then two permanent magic items that they would roll across the world as unstoppable juggernauts. Almost all of our treasure was in potions, scrolls, badly depleted wands, or almost worthless gold (for even the greatest of cities sold only low level potions, scrolls, and depleted wands. Even masterwork weapons and armor were borderline impossible to find), with no time to craft our own. Needless to say it grows old when your tenth level axe fighter is wearing a non-masterwork breastplate and can only hit an enemy on a natural twenty with his +1 shortsword (the only magic item he had).

However that being said, to each their own and if low treasure is the game you enjoy playing, who am I to tell you otherwise. Play and have fun.


IMO, if you want a low magic campaign, that implies a LOW MAGIC USER campaign.
There has to be some reason why there aren't so many magi running around and ancient items of power to be found. Basically, some reason why fewer of the adventuring and otherwise levelled population chooses to pursue being a caster and making items. Here are a few:

Casting requires some special spark, caster gene, or whatever, and that capability is only moderately correlated with having adventurer-level attributes. Therefore if you want to make a caster, or someone capable of taking caster levels, you're limited to a much smaller fraction of the population to choose from as a player. Therefore you get a worse character build option. Say, 10 point buy for full casters, 15 for semis like bards or magus, 20 for really bad casters like pallys and rangers, and 25 for everyone else. Make sure to punish dump stats, especially 7's, in a genre-appropriate simulationist manner.
OR
The bloodlines of all of the major races in your world have been tainted by darkness. Pretty much everyone in your world gets a +3 profane bonus to save against all magic. This reduces the incentive to play a mage/cleric because everything has a much easier time resisting your magic. Therefore there will be a lot fewer mages, and thereby, fewer magic items to find
OR
You live in a VERY young world, or a world where pretty much everything was destroyed in a great cataclysm. Accordingly, a very large fraction of the world's knowledge is lost and if you're a wizard or sorceror, you're not guaranteed any spells at all. Most of the spells you'll get, you'll have to research, and your difficulties for such will be much higher due to not having any extant magical theory really to work from. Call it a 'dawn of history' campaign. You might also limit the more sophisticated weapons and armor as well, requiring them to be invented first.
OR
People REALLY, REALLY hate casters, perhaps due to some magical apocalypse that's in recent memory. Destroying a magical item or killing a wizard is just the thing to raise your social standing and make women come to find you attractive (channelling Londo Mollari here).

Dark Archive

I don't see why it just isn't just a demographic thing -less casters in civilized communities, fewer casters amongst humanoids, etc. You shave the numbers down, and/or just limit the levels of those that exist (in communities) and that will equal less magic items.
Also by changing one huge factor and this applies for both for writing spells and creating items.
Required limited components - not just X gold for said item but to create an actual +2 Light Steel Shield you need some parts from a Bullete, etc. Gold should be for buying armies and running a city, most rare components may have a gold price tag, but considering their use it would make more sense to just send people out to try to find this stuff - and that gets hard when your average NPC is not a high level anything.

Again, it can also factor into being a requirement for writing spells/creating spell books. Just going back to 1st ed AD&D and looking at the example for creating a scroll. It's just not that easy, and if you pare down everyone's use for gold, all classes - then it does become fair. Gold should rarely translate into new gear or spells. It should help in getting personnel, buying a fortress or tower or used to buy info. The latter could be in the form of spells or new formula for the creation of magic, but really should more likely the rumored location of the same.

I can see players buying ancient arcana or forgotten prayers from a city or temple, but those institutions would be hard pressed for cash to give up something unique and possibly critical for their survival, defense, importance in the world, etc. It could happen, but it would be very rare. Just as a fighter wouldn't trade his +2 flametounge for x gold if that left him without a weapon or potential replacement, I would see communities doing the same.


As a player I never liked the magic mart thing. I look at it this way, magic items have a GP value but some one wasted a huge chunk of their life making this thing for what just to sell it for the gold.If they have the power to make it then they can go out and "find" that gold the same way you did. So make buying magic an reward in its self. Save the city and my court wizard will make you what you want if you can pay for the spell conponents. make it part of the game mechanics. can you talk the towns has-been hero in to selling you his dusty +2 longsword. The local Temple will only sell potions to clerics of that faith or one they are on good terms with. Put a gather info check for finding that special something with huge DC related to its cost/power. Need your race weapon buffed, you will have to go home to get it done. Join a guild to have access to some items. Pledge your loyalty to a lord and he will trade you weapons from his personal collection. Bribe his guard and steal the one you want.
Give me a way to exchange my gold/unwanted item for what I want but indirectly.


Intrinsic bonuses, careful adjustment of CR, credit lines for poor fighters... I don't know. I might be just too old fashioned, but I've always believed that, as long as you have a DM with an ounce of common sense and good judgement, things like the WPL should be simply guidelines, not hard rules.

I mean, I have never once played D&D/Pathfinder by following the expected wealth rules (well, back then we didn't even have stuff like "expected wealth at level X"), and I honestly never had a problem because of that. My players never feel underpowered or incapable of facing odds because their chances of hitting their CR-equivalent monster are 5.93% less than optimal for their level, since they know that, as long as they keep their wits working and their tongues sharp, they'll be able to sort it out.

"DM Judgement" is the only thing that will effectively make up for lower magic item budget.


Aaron Miller 335 wrote:

As a player I never liked the magic mart thing. I look at it this way, magic items have a GP value but some one wasted a huge chunk of their life making this thing for what just to sell it for the gold.If they have the power to make it then they can go out and "find" that gold the same way you did. So make buying magic an reward in its self. Save the city and my court wizard will make you what you want if you can pay for the spell conponents. make it part of the game mechanics. can you talk the towns has-been hero in to selling you his dusty +2 longsword. The local Temple will only sell potions to clerics of that faith or one they are on good terms with. Put a gather info check for finding that special something with huge DC related to its cost/power. Need your race weapon buffed, you will have to go home to get it done. Join a guild to have access to some items. Pledge your loyalty to a lord and he will trade you weapons from his personal collection. Bribe his guard and steal the one you want.

Give me a way to exchange my gold/unwanted item for what I want but indirectly.

Think of it this way--I'm an engineer by trade. I regularly trade in the neighborhood of 2000-2500 hours of my life away each year in exchange for gold. That'd be enough to make around 200K GP in items in a year, for a wage of 100K (removing material costs) per year. I'm obviously not incredibly unhappy trading chunks of my life for the 'gold' necessary to support my family---why should a wizard be averse to it?

The mentality that magic items shouldn't be for sale worked ok mechanically with 1st and 2nd edition and in the Basic/Expert sets, because the level of gear dependency was similar between classes and magic items weren't all that creatable by PCs. It still rankled the simulationist somewhat, because I'm hard pressed to find ANYTHING that humans make that isn't for sale somewhere. Google 'markets in everything' sometime for a good laugh. Fighters at high levels, for instance, actually had really good saves in 1st/2nd edition---as did most everyone else at high level. But the game has changed pretty substantially, and if you want to run a low-magic item game, you really need to do something that hits casters just as hard as well or you'll see them start seriously dominating the game considerably earlier than they would otherwise.


Klaus van der Kroft wrote:

Intrinsic bonuses, careful adjustment of CR, credit lines for poor fighters... I don't know. I might be just too old fashioned, but I've always believed that, as long as you have a DM with an ounce of common sense and good judgement, things like the WPL should be simply guidelines, not hard rules.

I mean, I have never once played D&D/Pathfinder by following the expected wealth rules (well, back then we didn't even have stuff like "expected wealth at level X"), and I honestly never had a problem because of that. My players never feel underpowered or incapable of facing odds because their chances of hitting their CR-equivalent monster are 5.93% less than optimal for their level, since they know that, as long as they keep their wits working and their tongues sharp, they'll be able to sort it out.

"DM Judgement" is the only thing that will effectively make up for lower magic item budget.

If you have a group that is solidly middle of the road with nobody really going overboard on the char-op boat then light magic can work and the increased discrepancy between casters and non casters might not be that noticeable. You probably also don't have Nova casters alpha striking EL+4 encounters either ;)

The problem is that not every group has a well defined "don't be a dick" social contract in force on the gaming table. They have selfish casters using alpha strike nova mage tactics. Under these scenarios it's definitely possible for a martial class with lower than the suggest WPL to feel like even more of a henchman to the full casters than they do regularly.

This is the reason why so many people are really hesitant to adopt low magic guidelines because the mechanical support simply isn't there within the 3.x system and thus it places a huge burden on the player social contract and the DM's ability to think and his feet and use DM fiat to rectify any precieved imbalances between classes.

Granted this is generally based upon the assumption that people play a relatively high combat form of D&D where shine equally instead of spotlight balance is preferred. Gross power disparity can be handled through divided spotlight focus and noncombat scenarios but they are major deviations from the established 3.x gameplay baseline (unfortunately).


Well, personally:

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Note: In our campaigns, magic is a dangerous, alien force - wizards seeks to tame the beast while sorcerer's attempt to guide it.

1: Someones gotta die! Aside from odd low-level potion, our players can't buy magic items in towns. If the item is useful to someone else then you can bet that person will be using it and won't give it up without a fight Someones gotta pry that Longsword +2 from the Zombie Lord's cold, dead hands...

2: Fortune favours the adventure! The characters often find items they need amidst the freshly liberated bling. Sometimes the GM even gives the players what they want but boy oh boy do they have to work for it double! Also, much research is done into the location and ownership of 'famous' items so the characters help to make their own luck by robbing... um, slaying the right targets. ..and potions are rarely labled (correctly..) because.. ..it makes the GM giggle.

3: If you want an item forged properly, forge it yourself! We encourage homemade/funded magical item crafting and typically award extra 'free' features and cool special effects to homemade items. It's not just a Crown of Awesome Ruling.. it's *my* Crown of Awesome Ruling - BEHOLDEN THE FLOATY RUBIES! WITNESS THEIR SUPER-COOL ORBITING! NOTICE HOW THEY RETREAT TO THE CROWN IN THE PRESENCE OF CHAOTIC ITEMS!''

O-o That's about it.

*shakes fist*

Grand Lodge

I do not like the philosophy of magic items are the players' due. The only thing that the players deserve is to have a GM that has a vested interest in the PCs. The GM should be rewarding his players with magic items, gold, and xp for both role-playing and moving the story forward.

I have long disliked the treasure hunting (or tomb raiding to some) but have always enjoyed having rewards bestowed upon me, whether by the King, the townspeople, a rich noble that you saved... you feel like it's a badge of sorts.

Alas, I have rarely had that happen in a campaign that I was a part of, and am trying to implement that philosophy in my current campaign.

But it's not for everyone. I am sure my players are happy with what I have been doing.

(I also dislike bland magic items. I like to give every magic item a little bit of personality...)


Aeshuura wrote:
I do not like the philosophy of magic items are the players' due

Aye aye, seconded. Luckily our lot know they cannot bank on having x item by y level.. which also cuts back on powerplay/plotting. (If I have this stat *now* then by *such and such a level* I will have that item and will be able to do yadda yadda yadda...

We do hand out items that players want - normally with a twist or with extra 'features' on special occasions - at the end of a story arc, if the player has been working for it for many levels etc.

We've run campaigns into epic levels with characters only having 4-5 items a piece. All has been well - and we don't play nice!

While we do love the old 'Well done lads, have a title/my daughter/some land/a treasure map' we also encourage tomb raiding/targeted hits on evil/monsters that have been famed to gaurd/own such and such an item.

Firstly it encourages research, roleplay and exploration. Secondly we simply get the urge to kick down the doors of someones tomb and beat things with sticks/swords/spells/skills.. Typically when the whisky starts to flow..

...which is probably why so many end up cursed, haunted and trapped at the bottom of pit traps awaiting the return of the rest of the party with the extra 40' of rope...

*shakes fist*


Aeshuura wrote:
I do not like the philosophy of magic items are the players' due.

Agreed and I tend to ignore that whole idea


Adventure Path Charter Subscriber
EWHM wrote:


The mentality that magic items shouldn't be for sale worked ok mechanically with 1st and 2nd edition and in the Basic/Expert sets, because the level of gear dependency was similar between classes and magic items weren't all that creatable by PCs.

Actually, the fighter types were set up to be more dependent on magic items than the magic user was. The 1e DMG goes into this. The random magic item tables were, therefore, set up so that magic weapons and armors are considerably more common than magic-user only items like staves and wands.

That, I think, is another deviation 3e makes that wasn't an improvement on the game. They recast the magic item tables based on market value more than on class roles.


Bill Dunn wrote:
EWHM wrote:


The mentality that magic items shouldn't be for sale worked ok mechanically with 1st and 2nd edition and in the Basic/Expert sets, because the level of gear dependency was similar between classes and magic items weren't all that creatable by PCs.

Actually, the fighter types were set up to be more dependent on magic items than the magic user was. The 1e DMG goes into this. The random magic item tables were, therefore, set up so that magic weapons and armors are considerably more common than magic-user only items like staves and wands.

That, I think, is another deviation 3e makes that wasn't an improvement on the game. They recast the magic item tables based on market value more than on class roles.

Somewhat more dependent, yes, but the fighter in 1st edition wasn't crazily gimped with low magic---which is probably why Gygax didn't really bother much with a wealth by level benchmark or anything, simply saying to stay between the poles of 'killer dungeon' and 'Monty Haul'. Consider, for instance, the Conan setting (there was a series of adventure modules published using that setting in 1st edition). Magic items there were very rare---a 10th level character might have only one of them. It worked because the fighters there didn't need +5 cloaks of resistance and other items to have a fighting chance against magic. For one thing, all their iterative attacks through level or weapon specialization worked off their full BAB (we called it THACO in those days) and they could usually get a full attack :-)

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