Big Three & Mandatory Magic Items


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To start this thread off, let me be perfectly clear about my underlying bias. I hate magic items which primarily exist just to boost numbers. I hate having to buy them as a character. I hate having to reward them as a GM. I hate the mechanics of how they work, and I hate the thematic issues of everyone in a setting wearing the exact same thing. Needless to say, in PF1 my most disliked feature was the inclusion of the Big Six. You got a resource (gold) which provided a multitude of options as to what you could get with it. Except if you didn't choose the option of spending your gold on the Big Six and constantly maintaining them with upgrades, then you fell behind.

As a result, Automatic Bonus Progression (ABP) was my favorite optional rules addition in PF1. It made those necessary bonuses innate, and allowed players to spend the gold they obtained on actually interesting items rather than the Big Six gold sink required to stay on the treadmill. Within my group, these rules were also well received, as players enjoyed buying weapons that felt magical rather than just being slightly better weapons. They also loved finding magic items without having to worry about if half the group had already bought that exact item (something which actually did happen with a found cloak of resistance in a game which I was a player). That being said, the ABP rules were not perfect. In my opinion, their greatest flaw was that they were obviously a tacked on patch. You had to follow a messy table of bonuses and had odd features (attunement) which didn’t fully fit thematically. This was likely unavoidable, since ABP was trying to remove a subsystem while staying consistent with the underlying math of a system which had already long been established.

Which is what brings me to the PF2 Playtest. Since we are still in the playtest phase, the underlying math of the system is still open to adjustment and hasn’t fully set yet. This is the perfect opportunity to kill the concept of the Big Six entirely, while making their absence a seamless experience for the players. Especially now that +level is added to so many rolls and ability scores get a boost every 5 levels, there is less of a reason to say that these kinds of items are necessary for a feeling of progression by having higher numbers.

To their credit, paizo has clearly taken steps towards reducing the impact of the Big Six in the PF2 Playtest thus far. However, I would argue that they have not gone far enough and we still suffer from what I will refer to as the “Big Three.” The Big Three consists of the following items, all of which primarily exist to sink gold and give higher numbers necessary for players to stay competent.
1) Weapon Potency Runes
2) Armor Potency Runes
3) Potent Item for key ability score

Without these items being purchased (& upgraded for the runes), your character is doomed to fall off the treadmill and lag behind. You get the "option" to spend your money how you want or select starting items as a higher level character, but you better use those resources to pick the appropriate Big Three items. While the potent items have been moved to 14th level and given extra effects, the rulebook even suggests giving them to characters who will be looking for them at that point. Not because of their added effects, but because they boost statistics necessary to keep up with enemy statistics.

As a result, I want to strongly make the following suggestions for PF2:
1) Remove magical items which exist primarily to give numerical bonuses that then become necessary to succeed.
2) Move any interesting/essential aspects of these items to other features.
3) Adjust the underlying math to accommodate these changes. This may be a large task, but it can only be done well prior to the official release.

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Now to end this post, I’d like to give some of my thoughts of what could be done to the Big Three as part of these changes. These may not be the best options, and I’d certainly love to hear if others had better ideas for them.

Weapon Potency Runes: Remove potency runes as a type, and just have property runes. Property runes are already what makes the item feel magical, rather than just boosting numbers. That said, I think both the attack bonus and extra dice of damage given by weapon potency have a place in PF2, just not here.

For the attack bonus, item quality already gives an attack bonus, but doesn’t stack with potency and is likely to be ignored as a result (i.e. a mundane legendary quality sword is strictly inferior to a +3 or +4 master quality sword). With potency removed, you can have item quality be the primary way to get attack bonuses on weapons, along with the proficiency system that is already implemented.

As for the extra damage dice, it is a very fun feature for players to get extra dice to roll and as such should probably remain in the game. Rather than have it being a part of weapons however, I think it would be better placed as a feature of the character, perhaps as an extra benefit of increased proficiency with weapons. This would help weapon proficiency to have a bit more of an impact (which feels needed for many non-skill proficiencies), even if it would require changes with how martial classes currently increase proficiency.

Armor Potency Runes: Again, remove potency runes as a type, and just have property runes. Property runes are already what makes the item feel magical, rather than just boosting numbers. Currently, armor potency just boosts AC, TAC, and Saving Throws. However, all of these features already improve as characters level up due to their proficiency modifiers increasing with level, which makes the idea of higher level characters needing boosts less necessary. That said, in order to match weapons gaining attack bonuses from item quality, AC and TAC of armor could do the same. Reduced ACP from armor quality could then be shifted over to armor proficiency, where it makes a bit more sense & helps gives armor proficiency more benefits than just +1s.

Potent Items: Remove the potent quality and drop the price to reflect only the additional ability they had (i.e. Belt of Regeneration healing hp). If the additional ability alone isn’t enough to justify having a magic item, then it probably shouldn’t have been a magic item in the first place. Either adjust or remove the item as necessary. With ability scores already getting increased every 5 levels, having an additional bonus from an item really isn’t necessary, especially when it occurs about 1 level before the 15th level set of boosts.


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Pathfinder Adventure, Adventure Path, Lost Omens, Rulebook Subscriber

I agree with this categorically, and will for sure be implementing it as a house rule if it doesn't make it into the system. I already use a custom ABP house rule for PF1e, and I don't plan to ever go back to magical items that are strict numerical bonuses.

Grand Lodge

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IMHO, magic items should be magical and rare. If everyone is wearing the same cloak, well, how really special are they?

Characters should be powerful even with no magic items. Magic items should be a plus - a hat of disguise, a deck of illusions, a druid's vestiment. Something that is useful and not really mandatory. It's nice to have, but you won't lose too much for not having it.

At the moment, my players see magic items as loot/gold only. "Oh, another +1 weapon? Nice, that's worth 1k gold". It's always better to sell anything because the +2 attribute upgrade is a must. Not really interesting from the GM perspective, to be honest.


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Pathfinder Card Game Subscriber

I also whole-heartedly agree with this assessment. As a player in four chapters of the playtest so far, my picks have been like, "magic armor, magic weapon, okay now what looks interesting and cool".

The weapon and armor proficiency thing seems like it would work, but not without some general method of achieving expert, master or legendary in them outside of the class feature. The way armor and weapon proficiency work now is really a waste if all I want to do is use a certain weapon/weapon group or specific armor and get better at it.


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Just from reading the title of this thread, I knew exactly which three items were going to be talked about. The big 6 aren't really gone, they've just been condensed into a smaller list of items. In some ways it's actually worse, since in PF1 some classes didn't need all of the 6. In PF2, even wizards suffer massively if they elect not to pick up a magic weapon (since it leaves them without a good 1-action attacking option, and being without a good 1-action attacking option is a very, very bad idea)

Scarab Sages

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Yes please.


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I agree with this. I always thought the weapon, armor, and other special abilities were way cooler and more fun than attack bonuses, save bonuses, or armor bonuses, while those numerical bonuses were simply required.

I don't necessarily want all the extra dice to come from proficiency, because I do like the idea that a wizard can swing a staff and not be inept and I am not sure it makes much sense for them to have a high proficiency in weapons (although maybe just one weapon isn't that odd).

I am currently trying to wrap my brain around items that grant numerical bonuses to skills. I have always liked the idea of high quality thieves tools and even magic items like Boots of Elvenkind, but I do wonder where the line between cool story and boring numerical bonus is drawn. These items seem fun to me even though they are just numbers, but maybe that is because they have more story and a little detail, but I am not sure what mundane high quality thieves tools or Boots that make you more nimble on your feet could do besides small numerical bonuses.

Grand Lodge

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Boots of elvenkind, whenever you would be slowed by difficult terrain or trigger a reaction due to movement, you spend a resonance to ignore the triggering thing until you complete the action you were in the middle of.

Numbers given? None.


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Pathfinder Adventure, Adventure Path, Lost Omens, Rulebook Subscriber

I'm okay with skill items granting a numerical bonus (although like most others I would prefer those items to put you at least a little bit ahead of the success curve instead of being needed to keep up - or at the very least, characters should be a little behind without and a little ahead with).

The big difference with skill items is that there are a lot of skills. No one is going to get an item for every skill, so everyone is going to be wanting very different items. And not everyone is even going to want a skill item.

Plus, as long as they push you ahead of the curve, skill items tend to be a thing players DO get excited about. My rogue players are always stoked when a cloak of elvenkind drops. :)


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While I also didn't like the big 6 in 1e, I don't actually mind the items they've reduced it to, but if they were to convert it, I'm not sure I like your fixes. Instead of Potency for weapons and armor, all you've done is made the weapons and armor non-magical, but that doesn't really fix much, since those quality weapons and armor would have to be repriced to roughly around where those bonuses were with magical weapons and armor. And I think the extra damage coming from proficiency would even more stymie characters who want to branch out into a more weapon-user role, like battle clerics, swashbuckler Bards and gishes.

For the Stat Items, I personally like them, and I think the fact that they can grant minor boosts, outside of just stat ups, and the fact that slots are largely gone (though I'd like it even more, if they just decided to remove the slots from those items, in case they print more neat circlet or belt options; why can't I wear two belts? or get Suspenders of Giant Strength), make me a lot more keen on them than the respective items in 1e.


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I personally would like to divorce items from the numbers needed: ie, no item should be needed to keep up. Now like MaxAstro, I'm not opposed to some items that could give an extra boost but even then I'd prefer it is the item does something cool and it then gives you a bonus vs the item JUST give you a boring bonus and that's it. So a 'grants a +2 stealth'... meh. 'the wearer melds into the shadows and that grants a bonus on stealth' or 'the cloak shifts colors to match the background, granting a +2 stealth'.

Leafar Cathal wrote:
IMHO, magic items should be magical and rare.

Not me. I want to have so many that I have a hard time figuring out what I want to use today. Now I don't mind if powerful and earthshaking magic is rare but cool magic trinkets? I don't want a tengu drinking jug to be an artifact that's rare, unique and a major event.


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Nope, let me be the voice of dissent. I want magic items to have a measurable and consistent effect. I don't want to sink significant resources into an item I'll only use twice a level, or when I do use it, it has no effect because of a bad guy saving against it. That usually means a numerical bonus of some sort.

I want to put on a magic item and immediately be better.

I don't want magic for PCs to be rare - it can be rare in world, but I want my characters dripping with magic. minor trinkets and major powerhouse items both.

I really don't give a gnats whisker what the other players are rocking, I don't care if we all have the same load out - I want this for my characters regardless.

What I want pretty much mandates a set of key items that are assumed - and I'm ok with that.


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I'm all for removing magic items from the math of the system!


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dragonhunterq wrote:
I want to put on a magic item and immediately be better.

IMO, I'm less worried about stronger than cooler, more fun and more interesting. I want nifty, fun, interesting, exciting magic items. +3 armor just isn't any of those to me, while something as simple and 'weak' as glamered is.

Now I'll agree that a magic item should have a noticeable effect consistent with it's cost just that that affect shouldn't be an assumed part of the math already backed into combat numbers: IE, The game shouldn't assume how I've spent my cash/item picks.


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Dante Doom wrote:
I'm all for removing magic items from the math of the system!

Seconded.


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BeatenPinata wrote:
Dante Doom wrote:
I'm all for removing magic items from the math of the system!
Seconded.

Third!


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Voting in Favor of removing all types of Potency Runes!! All they do is make item progression boring and make you "keep up" with the math.

The items that increase Strength and such should probably still exist, as they are traditional magic items which do feel impressive, but they can be modified. Plus, they're high level enough and the impact is so much smaller than the potency runes (+1) that they shouldn't be a big issue. It's really cool how they let even an 10 STR weakling feel superhuman.

Dark Archive

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dragonhunterq wrote:

Nope, let me be the voice of dissent. I want magic items to have a measurable and consistent effect. I don't want to sink significant resources into an item I'll only use twice a level, or when I do use it, it has no effect because of a bad guy saving against it. That usually means a numerical bonus of some sort.

I want to put on a magic item and immediately be better.

Part of the problem is that the magic items in question don't make you better; they simply keep you from falling behind -- that is, because of the so-called treadmill, they merely help you in not becoming worse.


I don't think it is a realistic expectation for the big 3 to disappear. While I completely get why y'all don't like them, trying to get rid of them just doesn't work for a lot of people, and I bet those people are in the majority.

However, I think house ruling an APB will be trivially easy. Much easier and more elegant than PF1. You just need to look at the WBL treasure table and give folks an inherent bonus whenever you see a new +1.


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Captain Morgan wrote:
I don't think it is a realistic expectation for the big 3 to disappear.

Why not? Replace low-level potency runes with some low-level property runes to keep magic armor in the game, and we're golden. It also means we no longer have the irritating issue of weapons getting arbitrary power-ups in the hands of monsters that go away the moment you kill them and claim the item.


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Pathfinder Adventure Path, Lost Omens, Rulebook, Starfinder Adventure Path, Starfinder Roleplaying Game Subscriber

I'm in complete agreement with the original poster.

Indeed, I think the game would be much more flavorful, and fun, if magical bonuses from items where always mediated by effects, instead of being bland bonuses.

An item that makes you Quick 1, or which imposes Sickened 1 on enemies within 10', or which hits you with a continuous Protection (Evil) effect, or something, is much more fun and interesting (IMO) than an item that gives you a bland "+1" just cuz.


Captain Morgan wrote:

I don't think it is a realistic expectation for the big 3 to disappear. While I completely get why y'all don't like them, trying to get rid of them just doesn't work for a lot of people, and I bet those people are in the majority.

However, I think house ruling an APB will be trivially easy. Much easier and more elegant than PF1. You just need to look at the WBL treasure table and give folks an inherent bonus whenever you see a new +1.

How to adjust the wealth balance, however, is a bit trickier here...


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Just asked this question in today streaming for Logan Bonner

Do you guys have plans to remove Items necessity? Like removing the now "Big 3", and make magic items just do cool stuff and forget things like +1, +2...

The answer was this is a kind of legacy and they don't feel that removing this items would make sense. He said that maybe there will be an optional rule for this in the Game Mastery Guide (Like ABP, I think).

Hope they change theirs minds like they changed with healing!


Dasrak wrote:
Captain Morgan wrote:
I don't think it is a realistic expectation for the big 3 to disappear.
Why not? Replace low-level potency runes with some low-level property runes to keep magic armor in the game, and we're golden. It also means we no longer have the irritating issue of weapons getting arbitrary power-ups in the hands of monsters that go away the moment you kill them and claim the item.

Because people like magic weapons and armor, and the most intuitive thing they can do is make you better at doling out punishment or tanking it. And in a numbers based game the most intuitive answer on how to do that is add more numbers. And in order to avoid some set of items rising to the top and becoming the new must have, you would need to make weapons and armor that don't contribute to their core purpose, essentially.

Tons of folks like that getting a +1 weapon actually makes your character better at killing stuff. And now that it adds another dice, it is even more exciting. I personally would hate to see +1 weapons go, though I'd like it if they merely added damage dice and not to hit. I think the weapon's quality should be all that adds to hit. 1

Quote:
How to adjust the wealth balance, however, is a bit trickier here...

I'm not even sure that's true. Like, it is a bit trickier, but I don't know that it is hard. Just take table 11-2 and remove an equal level item for each new potency rune that you'd be getting. That should work fine taking a character from 1-20, and if you are building at higher levels you just remove whatever items they would have gotten their highest possible potency runes with. \It seems like it should be easier than when WBL charts were just lump sums.

Here, I'll take a stab right now.

TABLE 11–2: CHARACTER WEALTH
Level Permanent Items Currency
1 — 15 gp
2 1 1st 15 gp
3 1 2nd, 2 1st 20 gp
4 2 2nd, 1 1st 30 gp
5 1 3rd, 1 2nd, 2 1st 50 gp
6 1 5th, 1 4th, 2 2nd 80 gp
7 1 6th, 2 5th, 1 3rd 125 gp
8 1 2 6th, 1 5th, 1 4th 180 gp
9 1 7th, 1 6th, 2 5th 250 gp
10 1 9th, 1 8th, 2 6th 350 gp
11 1 10th, 2 9th, 1 7th 500 gp
12 2 10th, 1 9th, 1 8th 700 gp
13 1 12th, 1 11th, 1 10th, 2 9th 1,000 gp
14 1 13th, 1 12th, 2 10th 1,500 gp
15 1 13th, 1 12th, 1 11th 2,250 gp
16 1 14th, 1 13th, 1 12th 3,250 gp
17 1 15th, 2 13th 5,000 gp
18 1 17th, 1 16th, 1 14th 7,500 gp
19 1 18th, 2 17th, 1 15th 12,000 gp
20 2 18th, 1 17th, 1 16th 20,000 gp

It can use some fine tuning, as some levels you only get like 2 items now and others you still get a bunch, but this is like 5-10 minutes work. I'm sure it can be improved with a little thought.


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Captain Morgan wrote:
Because people like magic weapons and armor, and the most intuitive thing they can do is make you better at doling out punishment or tanking it.

You can do that without the +1. A flaming sword doles out more punishment and armor of chains that provides a counterattack reaction doles out more tanking. I'll grant its not as easy/simple to make actually interesting abilities but IMO the effort is worth it.


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You're 100% right. In fact, I would love to call your post redundant, because the designers promised several times they were getting rid of the Big Six. But seeing the math "expecting" characters to have stat-boosting items at given levels it's very hard to deny that they missed completely on the mark on this. There's literally zero point in "getting rid of the Big Six" only to pigeonhole every player on new purchases with a different twist.

Seems to me that this issue is a no-brainer. Just reduce the DC of the levels where characters "are expected" to have these items.

Being forced to buy items to stay on curve is terrible and should change as soon as possible.


graystone wrote:
Captain Morgan wrote:
Because people like magic weapons and armor, and the most intuitive thing they can do is make you better at doling out punishment or tanking it.
You can do that without the +1. A flaming sword doles out more punishment and armor of chains that provides a counterattack reaction doles out more tanking. I'll grant its not as easy/simple to make actually interesting abilities but IMO the effort is worth it.

But sometimes you want to just represent quality rather than making the weapon or armor different.


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I am 100% into the idea that potency and such, are related to the c haracter.

The only magic we put on weapons, would be like flaming runes and returning.


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Ultimatecalibur wrote:
graystone wrote:
Captain Morgan wrote:
Because people like magic weapons and armor, and the most intuitive thing they can do is make you better at doling out punishment or tanking it.
You can do that without the +1. A flaming sword doles out more punishment and armor of chains that provides a counterattack reaction doles out more tanking. I'll grant its not as easy/simple to make actually interesting abilities but IMO the effort is worth it.
But sometimes you want to just represent quality rather than making the weapon or armor different.

Isn't that what Item Quality for? Why make an identical Magic Quality stat?


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graystone wrote:
Isn't that what Item Quality for? Why make an identical Magic Quality stat?

You have it backwards. Originally there wasn't an Item Quality stat. There was only a Magic Quality stat.

Many modern problems can be directly attributed to designers building the Magic Quality stat into opponent design math instead of letting it be a bonus. A flaming sword is only special because it does something outside the norm. Even a humble +1 to hit and damage can be special if it is not assumed.


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Ultimatecalibur wrote:
You have it backwards. Originally there wasn't an Item Quality stat. There was only a Magic Quality stat.

I'm not sure how that matters for the playtest: for it, originally there IS/WAS an Item Quality stat. We aren't talking about pathfinder classic but the playtest afterall.

Ultimatecalibur wrote:
Many modern problems can be directly attributed to designers building the Magic Quality stat into opponent design math instead of letting it be a bonus. A flaming sword is only special because it does something outside the norm. Even a humble +1 to hit and damage can be special if it is not assumed.

Agreed. As a result, I'd rather that assumption be removed and the numbers adjusted to not need those pluses. That way the humble, and boring, +1 isn't assumed and needed and then we can bury those magic pluses in a hole and never look at them again.

Liberty's Edge

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But a +5 bonus that isn't accounted for in the monster math is impossible in this edition, since it would more than double the characters damage potential. Well, not impossible so much as a very bad design choice. The most you can really look at having accuracy boosted without directly countering it with monster AC probably is +1, since it would still be in the same range as the d6 damage bonuses available.


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I'm seriously wondering why people think having mandatory magic items (which are substantially cut down in this edition) is a bad thing.

1. The Big Three are a meta, and a meta will always exist in a game like this, as they exist in most other games of a similar genre. If the Big Three aren't generic potency boosts or attribute boosts, then it will be something else that is extremely powerful that people won't/can't go without. Saying "No more Big Three" is like saying "No more meta." Which for all players, power gamers or not, is complete nonsense. Even if this potency stuff doesn't exist, maybe flying options do now? So now, the Big Three, instead of being "Things that give +X," they are now "Things that let me do X." Flight, Teleportation, Invisibility. Congratulations, you now have your new "Big Three," are we now just going to abolish those options too when it comes time?

This segues into my next point.

2. The Big Three help create and quantify popular (and unpopular) fantasy tropes. The Dragonlance is a powerful magic weapon whose design is meant to fell powerful beasts known as Dragons. Valor, a mystical suit of armor worn by Arkaine, a hero of light, entombed so that a true successor may carry on the legacy. The Holy Avenger is a consecrated blade of penultimate divinity (although not so much in this edition), wielded by paragons of law and good. When you decide "No more Big Three," you also decide that items such as these are no longer inherently valuable to players, and you cut down on some of the goals players may have for their characters. Maybe they want to do a quest to find such artifacts and use them for their character's own ends. But we'll never know that when we decide that "mandatory" magical items are bad design and should never be done. Or we can come to the conclusion that "mandatory" magic items vary from person to person, and accept that; at least, that's what I'll be doing. You guys can keep saying no to your players all you want, just don't expect them to be at your table for much longer.

3. Not every class adhered to the Big 6 in PF1, which skewed the C/MD of that edition significantly (especially since Wizards didn't "need" any of it). Condensing it both applies this expectation to every class (as it was originally designed and intended), and still helps alleviate how many slots this stuff takes up. Consider what PF1 restricts: Weapon(s), Armor/Shield, Cloak, Belt, Headband, Ring. (Oh, and CLW Wand X9999999, but that's beside the point.) The only restriction for PF2 is Weapon (or hands), Armor (or bracers), and [relevant attribute slot]. Big improvement, and also helps make those slots mandatory for all classes. The only bad thing I can say about it is that it really cuts down on the imagination/usefulness of those slots, but considering most everyone in fantasy has weapons and armor plus a knickknack of some sort, is it really that bad of design? I'd say not. However, if you want to turn Pathfinder into some weird nudist support system because "mandatory magic items are bad," then I won't stop you.


I mean, I get why people want "mandatory magic items" to not be a thing. But I think Darksol is right that there always will be a meta.

And the other thing is that lots of folks like having armor and weapons do this stuff.


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Darksol the Painbringer wrote:

I'm seriously wondering why people think having mandatory magic items (which are substantially cut down in this edition) is a bad thing.

Because it is. Every item you mentioned on your second point would definitely be attractive, regardless if they were "treated as +x" weapon. They can all offer powerful and unique effects, not just offer more of the same.

I don't see anywhere people going after weapons, or items, that just do more of the same of what normal swords do. They often do something a simple sword can't do. You're equating losing the boring straight up damage boost to "inherently" making these items unattractive, this makes no sense whatsoever.

Also, it's impossible to avoid having more popular items because there will always exist something that most players will find valuable above other situational/weaker. But his is VERY different from things that are mandatory so that the system can work as intended, which is the whole point of this discussion.

Since I'm fairly new to TTRPGs (been playing for over two years now), I always thought it as a given to have +X weapons and armor, but I see that getting rid of it is for the best. It will free up space for varied and different effects, because they'll not be competing with straight damage that must be bought so that you don't fall behind. This, in my opinion, only benefits the game.


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Darksol the Painbringer wrote:
I'm seriously wondering why people think having mandatory magic items (which are substantially cut down in this edition) is a bad thing.

Mainly because I'd rather pick what items my character uses instead of having someone else tell me what items I should use.

#1 if you remove math, then it's an actual choice: does your character want movement? Some kind of divination? An illusion? If the DO is a bunch of equally powerful options, what is 'best' is a matter of opinion and not a system enforced pre picked 'option'.

#2 Not sure how any of that matters. If you want a dragon slayer item, none of that requires a magic plus item. Same with a holy avenger. You can 100% make an item wanted without it being mandatory.

#3 is it bad design? Yes, yes it is. Making a +3 weapon FAR, FAR superior to a weapon with abilities but a lower plus makes things much less interesting. That sword we heard about that had a fire ray that uses RP that was talked about in the lead up to the playtest, IMO, should be the kind of items the game offers and not 'oh goodie, a better plus weapon...' :P


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Lightning Raven wrote:
Darksol the Painbringer wrote:

I'm seriously wondering why people think having mandatory magic items (which are substantially cut down in this edition) is a bad thing.

Because it is. Every item you mentioned on your second point would definitely be attractive, regardless if they were "treated as +x" weapon. They can all offer powerful and unique effects, not just offer more of the same.

I don't see anywhere people going after weapons, or items, that just do more of the same of what normal swords do. They often do something a simple sword can't do. You're equating losing the boring straight up damage boost to "inherently" making these items unattractive, this makes no sense whatsoever.

Also, it's impossible to avoid having more popular items because there will always exist something that most players will find valuable above other situational/weaker. But his is VERY different from things that are mandatory so that the system can work as intended, which is the whole point of this discussion.

Since I'm fairly new to TTRPGs (been playing for over two years now), I always thought it as a given to have +X weapons and armor, but I see that getting rid of it is for the best. It will free up space for varied and different effects, because they'll not be competing with straight damage that must be bought so that you don't fall behind. This, in my opinion, only benefits the game.

Except by design, that's all those items are.

A Dragonlance, by PF1 standards, would probably be akin to a +1 Dragon Bane Lance weapon (as it doesn't have any other draws to it besides "used to kill dragons"). It gives +1 to Attack and Damage, with +3 Attack and 2D6+3 Damage against Dragons, while also bypassing Magic DR that Dragons usually have. Yawn, boring weapon.

Arkaine's Valor, by PF1 standards, could be a +1 Half Plate that gives +2 Constitution or something to that effect. I'm not 100% certain of what it could all do, but it's certainly no Godly Plate of the Whale or a Stormshield.

The Holy Avenger is probably the most varied of these three, since it originally does allow one to utilize Dispel Magic and other goodies. But its biggest draw is still that it is a +5 Cold Iron Longsword, and those benefits are all there when wielded by a Paladin. While Dispel Magic has its use, it's limited by item level, uses per day, and also only being usable by a Paladin. Almost no other magic item has that kind of use while not being a contender of the Big 6.

But even then, the point is that those magic items are "mandatory" in one way, shape, or form. Magic Weapons, Magic Armor, etc. all have draws to them, and outside of "+X," those draws are very few and far between, and usually very expensive or restrictive. On top of that, numerous tropes that certain weapons are only capable of defeating/destroying X disprove the idea that nobody wants "a better version of the same." Beowulf used a Magic Sword to fight a Dragon (or Grendel, or Grendel's mum, or something; I'm not 100% clear on that tale these days), which is honestly not that much different than a normal sword in terms of function or effectiveness; but because it was a magical weapon, it works. So congratulations, one of the biggest references to fantasy has been trivialized by your complaint; goes to show you that Beowulf is a simple man with simple tastes, and is actually a pretty lame fantasy character. /sarcasm

There are much more "mandatory" things besides the "Big 6" in this game (and from PF1) that you're really only shoving what the Big 6 is into something else. See Point #1 I made. The Big 6 (or 3 in this case) is the meta. You can try to change the meta, but you can't ever remove it without also removing the consequences of choice or building, something which this edition has as a goal (to make your choices matter more and more). Eventually, there's going to be people complaining about how this new "meta" with a lack of +X's is lame and they want something different to be the "meta," until they get fed up with that, and repeat the same cycle over and over again ad nauseum (at which point they move on to a new gaming system).

Don't get me wrong, I did like Automatic Bonus Progression (which we almost never used), but that was before we already had a system where the +1 to a single attribute wasn't generally that big of a deal. Now that we have something much more impactful, there's so many moving parts to where making that stuff automatic means balancing between levels becomes much more tricky (and almost impossible in some cases), and if we try to remove those differences, then a lot of monsters (and PCs) become "same-y," which kills player/character diversity. It's a slippery slope, I tell you. I'd rather just accept the necessary evil than try to "abolish" it and create something much worse as a byproduct.


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graystone wrote:
Ultimatecalibur wrote:
You have it backwards. Originally there wasn't an Item Quality stat. There was only a Magic Quality stat.
I'm not sure how that matters for the playtest: for it, originally there IS/WAS an Item Quality stat. We aren't talking about pathfinder classic but the playtest afterall.

It matters because is a long standing legacy problem that is likely older than you and the Item Quality stat isn't being evenly applied in the playtest(Expert/Master/Legendary Armor only reduces ACP).

Knowing how and why we got here can help avoid repeating the same mistakes again and again.

Quote:
Agreed. As a result, I'd rather that assumption be removed and the numbers adjusted to not need those pluses. That way the humble, and boring, +1 isn't assumed and needed and then we can bury those magic pluses in a hole and never look at them again.

Never say that because you will always end up digging that hole back up.

Every game that has tried to kill the equivalent of the +1 accuracy or +1 damage bonuses has always ended up bringing it back.

Drop the humble +1 and things like flaming/electric/frost/holy swords gradually become the new disparaged norm instead of interesting or special.

Darksol the Painbringer wrote:

I'm seriously wondering why people think having mandatory magic items (which are substantially cut down in this edition) is a bad thing.

The problem is the term mandatory. In 2e Dungeons and Dragons, getting a suit of non-magical Full Plate (which was user restricted Plate Mail +2 in effect) was considered an accomplishment and would serve a character well until around level 10 which was roughly endgame. Not getting a suit of Full Plate didn't mean they couldn't function and +5 Full Plate was a dream for most players.

If you discount the monsters that required +X magic weapons to hurt, characters in that edition could function quite well with non-magical gear and straight 10s in stats.


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Darksol the Painbringer wrote:
The Dragonlance is a powerful magic weapon whose design is meant to fell powerful beasts known as Dragons.

Why can't this item just do more damage to dragons? Why does it have to make you super powerful in the process?

Quote:
Valor, a mystical suit of armor worn by Arkaine, a hero of light, entombed so that a true successor may carry on the legacy.

I'm unfamiliar with the powers of this item, but it could easily just have a flavorful ability that is useful, but doesn't make your character statistically better. Perhaps X times per day, it heals your wounds, or it nullifies a hit/crit?

Quote:
The Holy Avenger is a consecrated blade of penultimate divinity (although not so much in this edition), wielded by paragons of law and good.

Why not just have the sword deal extra damage to evil things? Why have it grant a general bonus to all attacks and damage?


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graystone wrote:
Darksol the Painbringer wrote:
I'm seriously wondering why people think having mandatory magic items (which are substantially cut down in this edition) is a bad thing.

Mainly because I'd rather pick what items my character uses instead of having someone else tell me what items I should use.

#1 if you remove math, then it's an actual choice: does your character want movement? Some kind of divination? An illusion? If the DO is a bunch of equally powerful options, what is 'best' is a matter of opinion and not a system enforced pre picked 'option'.

#2 Not sure how any of that matters. If you want a dragon slayer item, none of that requires a magic plus item. Same with a holy avenger. You can 100% make an item wanted without it being mandatory.

#3 is it bad design? Yes, yes it is. Making a +3 weapon FAR, FAR superior to a weapon with abilities but a lower plus makes things much less interesting. That sword we heard about that had a fire ray that uses RP that was talked about in the lead up to the playtest, IMO, should be the kind of items the game offers and not 'oh goodie, a better plus weapon...' :P

1. We already have most of this as a major meta right now, with the "Big 3" being more of a sideline. Seriously, I really hate building anything other than Half-Elves, because having 40 feet movement by 5th level (base 25, +5 from Half Elf choice, +5 from Nimble, +5 from Fleet) means I spend less actions on moving and more actions on ending encounters. People have always said since PF1 that ruling the Action Economy means you rule the game, and it's still true. Compare spending 2 actions to move (and 1 action to attack), to 1 action to move and 2 actions to either attack twice, Power Attack, or do some strange combo ability. It makes all the difference. Divination has mostly been GM FIAT, and RAW it was completely broken and uninteresting. Spoiler Alert kind of characters ruin the story anyway. Illusions in PF1 were countered by Goggles of True Seeing. An expensive magic item, sure, but having those godly senses while also trivializing an entire school of magic makes it definitely worth the price (and makes Illusion spells worthless by the endgame).

Ironically enough, when you boil down what is and isn't good based on optimization, you're now left with a new "big 6," and it won't be long until people complain about how people are being "same-y" by having access or using XYZ options. Then we change it to something else, the same complaint gets made again, and we go in circles until we get fed up with the system, throw up, and try to find another simpler system to settle down with. Either adapt to the meta, or find another system that doesn't have or use one.

2. Sure it does. How else am I going to quantify it is meant to kill Dragons? Do I just let it automatically kill them when they use it? That seems way over-the-top, and it's not like Dragons in PF1 are these immortal "gods" that can't die. Can I just ignore the base "+1s" and give it the Dragon Bane bonus? Sure, but the player is still wanting this item for the same reasons a player would want a +X item, so why not kill two birds with one stone by making it a +X item as well? Holy Avenger is a special case, but imagine if I gave a Holy Avenger to a party that doesn't have a Paladin. That item is now just a very, very expensive +2 Cold Iron Longsword that will just be vendored for its money (or traded to a Paladin for something else that the players might want for similar reasons).

On top of that, players of all kinds do want items that make them simply better at X things, so the idea that they are "mandatory" may not cross those players' minds whatsoever, which is honestly fine and fair.

3. A Sword that makes a Fire Ray doesn't seem all that useful, to be quite honest. Considering how many enemies are immune or resistant to fire (even in PF2), players wouldn't want it simply because there would not be enough situations for it to shine. Red Dragon? Not happening. Fire Elemental? Nope. Water Elemental? That tickles.

Whereas the universal application of a weapon having a +X to better improve its main function, both makes more sense from a design standpoint, but also has more intuitive and beneficial mechanics, means +X has an inherently bigger draw to it. Does a Sword throwing Fire Rays sound cool? Sure. But is it useful and cool enough to forgo doing damage that end fights faster than if you didn't have it? Probably not.


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graystone wrote:
Darksol the Painbringer wrote:
I'm seriously wondering why people think having mandatory magic items (which are substantially cut down in this edition) is a bad thing.

Mainly because I'd rather pick what items my character uses instead of having someone else tell me what items I should use.

#1 if you remove math, then it's an actual choice: does your character want movement? Some kind of divination? An illusion? If the DO is a bunch of equally powerful options, what is 'best' is a matter of opinion and not a system enforced pre picked 'option'.

#2 Not sure how any of that matters. If you want a dragon slayer item, none of that requires a magic plus item. Same with a holy avenger. You can 100% make an item wanted without it being mandatory.

#3 is it bad design? Yes, yes it is. Making a +3 weapon FAR, FAR superior to a weapon with abilities but a lower plus makes things much less interesting. That sword we heard about that had a fire ray that uses RP that was talked about in the lead up to the playtest, IMO, should be the kind of items the game offers and not 'oh goodie, a better plus weapon...' :P

I mean. Imagine having a high-level magical sword that make a cut in the air basically giving it the ability to attack from afar? Even if it's limited, or requiring some sort of set up? Imagine the possibilities.

Or maybe a lance that can work like Zeus's lightning bolts, but instead of being spent, it comes back to the owner's hand. A hammer that can send a shockwave in a cone, basically offering an ability that mimics battlefield control spells. A magical bracelet that was designed with a spectral hand that can manipulate items, effectively enabling swifter actions, with possible effects being reducing reload time in weapons or turning somatic casting into a free action (very limited, of course). A magical shield that allows, as a reaction, to set up a barrier stopping the line of effect of some AOE spells, another one that sets up water barriers against fire spells. And this is just me spitballing some random ideas.

Before the argument that these are effects should be in artifact items, those can be even more significant to the world and feature abilities geared towards storytelling purposes, rather than being just crazy-powerful objects. For example, a unique Cloak that can generate effect to block/suppress the aura that powerful old gods or other higher beings often have and other similar effects that would be perfect for telling a story, rather than effects that are the benchmark of power items.

I mean, I don't know about you guys, but these are the types of items that I definitely would be interested in, even if they didn't increased my damage over my mundane Legendary crafted sword, with it's +3 bonus to hit, that even though costs a hefty sum, it still doesn't eat up everything I have (hyperbole).


thflame wrote:
Darksol the Painbringer wrote:
The Dragonlance is a powerful magic weapon whose design is meant to fell powerful beasts known as Dragons.

Why can't this item just do more damage to dragons? Why does it have to make you super powerful in the process?

Quote:
Valor, a mystical suit of armor worn by Arkaine, a hero of light, entombed so that a true successor may carry on the legacy.

I'm unfamiliar with the powers of this item, but it could easily just have a flavorful ability that is useful, but doesn't make your character statistically better. Perhaps X times per day, it heals your wounds, or it nullifies a hit/crit?

Quote:
The Holy Avenger is a consecrated blade of penultimate divinity (although not so much in this edition), wielded by paragons of law and good.

Why not just have the sword deal extra damage to evil things? Why have it grant a general bonus to all attacks and damage?

Let's see here, we have a special weapon created through a forging process by using two god-like artifacts, and it doesn't make you super-powerful that it helps you fell mythical Dragons? Not only does that make no sense, but its primary purpose (to be more effective against dragons) is the same reason why somebody would want +X weapons; to be more effective. Removing one while keeping the other when they're practically identical sounds like counterintuitive design principles that don't really fit with what you're trying to argue for.

Based on the wiki entry, it has no Strength requirement (making it a lighter armor, but also less durable as a result), improves one's hit points (granting a Constitution boost), reduces raw damage taken slightly, and would probably have a permanent Freedom of Movement effect. Pretty powerful and unique, but several of its benefits are purely "+X" or alterations to X attributes, and having one item grant Freedom of Movement when we already had a Ring in PF1 do that makes it a very bland item to begin with. The story and fluff might be there, but as far as it being a cool and useful item that isn't "+X" reliant, it fails there pretty hard.

See my argument above, except change "mythical dragons" to "Big Bad Demons and Devils." It's counterintuitive design, and the Holy Avenger in PF1 was actually capable of much more than just killing bad guys.

Liberty's Edge

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Well, I'm not going to try and speak for everyone here, but the big issue to me is when a purchase is expected by the game math, which it has to be with accuracy if they want to keep their tight band of expected modifiers, then it really becomes a choice of do I want to buy this thing, or fall behind the baseline. And to me that's not much of a choice. There's only one reasonable answer, and that's yes, I would like to keep up with the baseline. Now if you change from numerical bonuses it becomes a much more meaningful choice. Even the choice between doing an additional 1d6 fire damage versus 1d6 cold damage is more meaningful and enjoyable, even though they are almost the exact same thing.

I do kind of agree that if you remove the big 3, there might be a new meta, as in first edition there aren't a lot of magic items that are really worth the investment, even when you remove the big 6 or use ABP. Typically you'll see the number boosting items not in the big 6 and class specific items. Maybe metamagic rods as well. But I feel that was more a failing of the magic items in first edition than an inalienable feature of magic items themselves. There are a lot of options where I've looked at an item and thought hey, that's pretty cool, I could see that being useful in a couple situations, but it costs more than a +5 sword so I guess I'm never going to buy it, ever.

What I would really hope for, is that if they do end up removing +n items is that they would really have to focus on what a magic item is supposed to be, and what it's supposed to bring to a game. The +n items are just a crutch they can use to fill the treasure expectancy, thereby massively reducing the amount of meaningful treasure because you know people are just going to take the items that the game assumes them to have. Take that away and you can't just ignore magic item design because you know people are just taking the same 3 items all the time.


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thflame wrote:

The problem is the term mandatory. In 2e Dungeons and Dragons, getting a suit of non-magical Full Plate (which was user restricted Plate Mail +2 in effect) was considered an accomplishment and would serve a character well until around level 10 which was roughly endgame. Not getting a suit of Full Plate didn't mean they couldn't function and +5 Full Plate was a dream for most players.

If you discount the monsters that required +X magic weapons to hurt, characters in that edition could function quite well with non-magical gear and straight 10s in stats.

Honestly, I disagree. Even in the olden days, not having certain quality items was basically a death trap to your adventuring career, because even then, a standard was assumed if you were to become victorious, and is honestly a core fundamental design of all kinds of games. Playing Diablo 1 is a prime example (in fact, using Arkaine's Valor referenced above) where not having the absolute best gear for yourself (such as the strongest armor, the most desctructive weapons, and so on) is setting you up to die/lose.

Baldur's Gate and Icewind Dale are other solid examples of this sort of design principle (the former moreso than the latter from my experience though), and considering how related Pathfinder is to these genres of games, trying to cut out this staple may very well alienate old players and confuse new players about their design priorities.


Lightning Raven wrote:
graystone wrote:
Darksol the Painbringer wrote:
I'm seriously wondering why people think having mandatory magic items (which are substantially cut down in this edition) is a bad thing.

Mainly because I'd rather pick what items my character uses instead of having someone else tell me what items I should use.

#1 if you remove math, then it's an actual choice: does your character want movement? Some kind of divination? An illusion? If the DO is a bunch of equally powerful options, what is 'best' is a matter of opinion and not a system enforced pre picked 'option'.

#2 Not sure how any of that matters. If you want a dragon slayer item, none of that requires a magic plus item. Same with a holy avenger. You can 100% make an item wanted without it being mandatory.

#3 is it bad design? Yes, yes it is. Making a +3 weapon FAR, FAR superior to a weapon with abilities but a lower plus makes things much less interesting. That sword we heard about that had a fire ray that uses RP that was talked about in the lead up to the playtest, IMO, should be the kind of items the game offers and not 'oh goodie, a better plus weapon...' :P

I mean. Imagine having a high-level magical sword that make a cut in the air basically giving it the ability to attack from afar? Even if it's limited, or requiring some sort of set up? Imagine the possibilities.

Or maybe a lance that can work like Zeus's lightning bolts, but instead of being spent, it comes back to the owner's hand. A hammer that can send a shockwave in a cone, basically offering an ability that mimics battlefield control spells. A magical bracelet that was designed with a spectral hand that can manipulate items, effectively enabling swifter actions, with possible effects being reducing reload time in weapons or turning somatic casting into a free action (very limited, of course). A magical shield that allows, as a reaction, to set up a barrier stopping the line of effect of some AOE spells, another one that sets up water barriers against fire...

There is already a solid example of this in the Berserk manga, where one of the "new" main characters gains a wind sword in the shape of a feather, cutting from afar with a swing of the blade. It's actually one of the few magic items to ever exist, but considering the sort of genre that Berserk takes place in, it is on the gritty low end of fantasy (that isn't to say it doesn't have much fantasy influence, more that it's not the standard that Pathfinder and D&D are set as). In addition, the media in which this is portrayed isn't adhered to following mechanics like Pathfinder or D&D, meaning this property takes practically all of the spotlight. Comparatively speaking, these "magical properties" share that with the +X benefits, and considering that 9 times out of 10, magical properties are actually worse than another +X (because +X is the balancing point with which the developers use to gauge how strong/powerful/costly those magical effects are).

Kratos' Zeus Bolt is actually effectively an artifact bestowed by Zeus himself, so it already breaks many standard magic weapon rules, and shouldn't be a fair comparison to what we can expect magic items in the base game to be capable of. Even if we argue that it isn't, that already existed as a one-off weapon in PF1 which costed 1,500 gold per use, and only did minor damage (5D6), which can be missed for 0 damage quite easily. The Hammer option is cool, but good luck balancing that into something that both the developers and players enjoy. The "magical bracelet" sounds like the Possessed Hand feat chain from PF1; has potential, but I wouldn't expect it to work the way you describe based on how action economy is for controlling numerous creatures outside of your PC. There was also technically a shield in PF1 that could already do this, but it was extremely expensive and broke numerous rules as it was. On top of that, the option it granted was mostly crap anyway, so nobody really bothered to do such a tactic, and that hasn't changed here.

But let's go with it, and say that +X items suck. Okay, so now items with X property are going to be the most important things to get now; you don't actually solve the problem (no more mandatory items), you just transform it into something else (no more mandatory +X items).


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Darksol the Painbringer wrote:

The biggest difference between +X and these new "X properties" is simply because the former were (and still are) required for the math of the game to function, while the later, assuming that there would be things as generally good as straight up more damage and accuracy, would still left open the option for those that didn't want to buy them, because they would not be below the curve expected by the game, even if they chose to have a different effect available to them. I find it very unlikely to have varied properties on items behave like the current system, at least in terms of buying priority. More elemental damage is still situational, so even if you spend money on that Flaming Sword, you still can be comfortable using your spare Hammer/Spear/Axe or whatever type of weapon you can use, you'll also be able to use a bow.

But in this current system? You better be using your +3 magical weapon regardless of the situation, because you're better off using it's 3 extra dies than using your backup weapon with special material, different type of damage or ranged weapon.

Btw, my idea for the hammer was like this: Three actions, 1 Resonance point, prone on the ability+full weapon damage. Further uses increases the Resonance cost by 1. The spectral hand was just flavor, but it was basically to quicken your actions (helping archers, crossbows or casters).

Also, on the topic of Berserk, which I very much love, Gutts's Dragonslayer became a magical weapon after he killed so many demons with it, which was the most badass way of "forging" a magical weapon I could think of, specially because of the world of the story, which is very low on magic and more heavy on monsters.


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I quite like the Potent items, but based off of feedback from one of my players I wouldn't object if the assumed item bonus to skills got shifted mostly under proficiency.

RPG Superstar 2015 Top 32

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Voice of support.

Tighter math actually makes these items even MORE of a problem than in PF1.


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Pathfinder Adventure Path Subscriber

Yes please, drop potency runes and go straight to rune effects.

A +X to hit adds very little to the game, but a choice between cold damage and fire damage is huge. The +X is just a relic from the wargame era we don't need.

That said you could just limit the +X to 1 or 2 making the maths matter far less.

The only danger here is the risk of needing a golf bag of magic weapons so you can choose the best one for the encounter at hand. Although I guess that's not entirely new.

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