Proposal: make a generic skill bonus magic item

Magic Items

Sovereign Court

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So lately, the necessity of skill-boosting magic items is the talk of the town. The scale at which skill DCs rise assumes them, at some point. But they're kinda scattered all over the magic item chapter, with some skills getting them at different levels than others. Also, they're locked into particular styles. My paladin wants to boost his Intimidate but the only magic item available is the Demon Mask.

I think we're better off with a generic template for pricing a magic item that boosts a skill. Leave it up to the player/crafter to decide what form it takes - something cool and appropriate - but the pricing has a standard scale. I think this would be a good idea for several reasons:

  • Conserves space I think Mark Seifter remarked on how much page count was saved in Starfinder by collapsing all the +2 to two skills feats into one Skill Synergy feat.
  • Improves consistency having one single template for pricing skill bonus items prevents later writers in softcover books from accidentally introducing odd underpriced items that cause balance concerns.
  • Fills all gaps Typically there's always a few skills that are forgotten in a CRB and you have to wait five years before a skill bonus item comes out for that skill. This is annoying if the skill is important to you; especially if the GM is using the generic 10-2 table to set DCs, because those DCs assume all skills have item bonuses available at some point.
  • Gives a lot of flavor flexibility You can have cool setting-appropriate items without needing to invent new mechanics or rebalance things. And players can get the items that fit the style of their character.
  • Unchains skill bonuses from item slots Now that we don't know what will happen to Resonance, that's a bit in the air. But I don't think we'll see item slots back as the main mechanism for making you choose which magic item to keep. We'll probably still have some limit on the total number of magic items you can use at the same time. So skill items should be limited that way, not by which arbitrary slot the one example of a skill item was written into.

Dark Archive

I think this is a good idea, especially as with the current system the items are all over the place and sometimes do not fit the flavour at all. A good example for that is the demon mask for intimidate, i found it very wierd that a paladin who wnats to be good at intimidating (which is encouraged by the need for CHA for some abilities and the spell points) needs to wear a demon mask to be viable.

Dark Archive

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I second this.
I think this would help to simplify the skill items without taking anything important away (some not really fitting flavor), and it would remove some needless complexity. (Or can you explain why which skill items have which level? I cannot.) I propose to let the players flavor their skill items on their own.

Yeah, it definitely gets confusing. You want a boost to a skill, but then have to pay for a higher level item if it *happens* to do something extra that's better than another item. From what I've seen, the +2 items seem to range from about levels 5-7 (could be more than this...), and that just doesn't make sense.

Silver Crusade

I happen to agree, mostly because getting a skill bonus via item will be quite critical if you want to specialize.

Right now this reminds me of the generic masterwork tool option in the PF1 and in this case I prefer players being allowed to flavor their items the way that fits their character.

There is still a place for interesting magic items, but players want some level of control over the development of their character, so making a generic item for that could save a lot of page count and mage sure that no-one gets forgotten.

Pathfinder Adventure Path Subscriber

I would possibly prefer them to adjust the +5 item bonus you can get from magic to +2 for Expert/Master/Legendary prof, leaving either +2 from items or and shift item bonus to tools/kits* +1/2/3 for gear quality (though this does total to +1 more eventually, the math can be adjusted).

*(which i do believe is available now, though horribly inefficient compare to magic item increase after expert).

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I'd personally much rather they fix DCs than add in flavourless magic items. Remember, one of the reasons they're making PF2 in the first place is to build a system that pretty much does away with generic bonuses altogether.

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The flavourless, "bonus-only" items need to go. If the DC table needs to be changed for this to happen, GOOD, but if we need to make up more items that do nothing other than add the number you need because otherwise you'll fall behind, I will throw the whole edition in the metaphorical bin.

Sorry if I sound a bit extreme, but yeah, essentially I really dislike the idea of fixing a problem with another problem.

Just give me less money and remove the need for the item. Everyone will be fine with that.
If an item has to exist, make it so that it makes characters slightly better for having it.

Dark Archive

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If these items are free from flavor restrictions, you can flavor them yourselves. Instead of having a paladin wearing a Demon's Mask for Intimidating (which is terrible, and the reason why my characters never bought one).
And all these little boni these items give additional - they are far too situational to even think about them.
The little bonusses in PF2 look like the PFS1 Boons. If you played a specific scenario, you now have a +1 Diplomacy bonus against Nagajis. Will I think on this bonus when we actually encounter Nagajis in half a year? This is why I tend to ignore situational bonusses almost completely.

The off-flavour is another good reason to get away from required item bonuses, not a reason to multiply them.

Drop the mask down to a +1 and let it be a Fear-based item rather than a requirement for Intimidate.
Drop the Medicine down to a +2 and let it be a way to remove illnesses and curses more than a requirement for Treat Wounds.

Have bonuses as bonuses, and not requirements, and your flavour issues will disappear.

Sovereign Court

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I kinda prefer magic item bonuses over item quality bonuses because it's a little less fiddly. "This magic item gives you +2 intimidate because magic" vs. "this masterwork tool gives you +2 intimidate for particular applications of the skill".

I'd be quite okay if item bonuses to skills didn't exist at all. But if they're going to be a thing, I would rather have focused items for them, than something with a bunch of other abilities I didn't ask for which just add to the price of the skill bonus I want.

And I'm not saying I want "no flavor" items, I want "free flavor" items. Making a template for skill items means a writer can still put a flavorful skill item in a hoard, but he doesn't have to bloat up the system with yet another magic item that is either a duplicate, or different with risk of being misdesigned. The sort of problems we had with early-version Mask of Stony Demeanor for example could have been avoided.

Scarab Sages

Alternate proposal: Remove numeric skill bonus magic items entirely. They are bland and boring.

Liberty's Edge

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Generic Skill-Boosting Magic Items don't solve the problem.

Now, don't get me wrong, they'd be a good thing to have, but the simple fact is that PCs lack sufficient resources (both Gold and Resonance, or whatever replaces Resonance in all likelihood) to actually have Skill Magic Items for anywhere close to all the needed skills to make the current DC chart work.

Now, generic mundane skill items that are both readily affordable and available might well be a good solution to at least some degree, but magic items alone don't cut it.

Adjusting the chart so skill bonus items aren't necessary would probably entail reducing the amount of bonus they can theoretically provide (+5 is just too significant to not be needed by the tight math), but reducing that to, say, +3 is no bad thing. Indeed, dropping Skill Items to +3 max (possibly making them mundane) and reducing all DCs by 1 or 2 is a pretty solid solution in many ways...

Indeed, the way it seems to be set, even the Medium DC assumes you'll get a +5 over the course of your career just to maintain the same % of success.
And while I usually keep in mind that the world does not level, Treat Wounds stands as a massive example of why this is an issue.

If something is a routine check, then me keeping up with gradually harder challenges should be represented by my +1/lv, which is literally that - keeping up with level equally.

Now, sure, ok, Hard and higher challenges could require me to make investments to be able to keep up, because they're hard and level alone isn't enough - but Medium checks? The stuff I sit down and take time to do right as I always did?

If Easy is the difficulty Untrained characters are expected to be able to keep up with, then Medium is for Trained characters. It's your secondary or tertiary skill. Not your best, and certainly not what you magically enhance..

Ascalaphus wrote:
And I'm not saying I want "no flavor" items, I want "free flavor" items.

If an item allows you to cast Fear and give terrifying visions, that is its flavour, and you'll remember it every time you use it. The Intimidate bonus is a side benefit, and not really necessary for the item's identity either. Imagine the Wonderful Medicine without a Medicine bonus - is it still flavorful? Probably yes. The Belt of Regeneration? Definitely. The every-other-item-in-the-playtest? Most of the time, yes.

If an item grants you a bonus to Intimidate, and you decide to slap a "it's because of the light of righteousness" on top of it, but there's no actual effect associated with it, there is no flavour. The only thing in there is a recoloured text that you'll read once and forget about it, because all you need for it is the +5 next to the skill (which you'll also forget: all you really need is the total).

Silver Crusade

Just removing magic items that give you a bonus to skills might also be a viable option.

EDIT: I am not sure how much of a gameplay choice using those items is supposed to be, if you want use something like intimidate they seem kinda necessary, though I am not sure how hard the competition will be.

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I don't think the system should assume these bought bonuses, neither think that they should be bundled like that.

I would prefer to have bonuses attached to already interesting items, rather than having an item for the sole purpose of enhancing something that I gain with level, specially just some lame +2 (or +X whatever), it's even worse if the system is assuming that I'm buying this item, because I'm most certainly will prioritize something actually interesting that would be offer me new options, give me something I didn't have (Darkvision, etc) and something on this line.

Pure bonus items should be mundane items at best, like the Music Instruments that characters interested in performance could get. Or better thieve's tools.

Let magical items be magical. Not just a lame +1.

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