Why Is Elven Chain Such A High-Level Item?


Doomsday Dawn Game Master Feedback


So, in prepping for "The Heroes of Undarin", one of my playtest players wanted to know if he could take +3 elven chain for his +3 armor that he gets as part of character creation. He is creating an elven ranger who has spent the better part of the previous decade battling the forces of the Abyss in the Worldwound and, now, is traveling the land with the other PCs avenging the dead mortals and ridding the land of evil.

Since I know that the purpose of this chapter is testing the impact of magic items on combat and staying power, I have been inclined to say yes.

I mean: who better than to have a freakin' suit of elven, mithril chainmail than moderately-high-level elf who has just spent most of his recent life fighting demons?!! That's just ... appropriately cool!

But when I looked into it a bit more, I found that elven armor is very high-level as far as items go. And, in terms of game mechanics, all it does is have a lower Bulk than equivalent armors and lack the noisy condition. So, basically, it only has practical impacts upon Encumbrance/Bulk and the occasional Stealth check. And, yet, it's a very high-level item.

I've decided to tell the player, "No", because—in some conceivable scenario—that non-noisy armor might have an impact on how the adventure plays out. I sincerely doubt it but, hey: it's possible. And I don't want to allow something that could skew the results of the playtest.

What are your thoughts on this?

Sure, making it a high-level item for the sake of role-playing makes sense, when we're just doing a one-shot adventure it doesn't look like this is all that well-balanced. Every other magic item has a lot of intrinsic balance with other items (mechanically speaking, that is) but this ... this just seems to be bling.

Again: thoughts?

Yours,
Sylvan


First question is, who's going to wear a chain shirt? Alchemists, Bards, and Rogues are limited to light armor. I can't see a reason for most classes to use a lower tier of armor in most situations, so we'll leave out the medium and heavy armor classes.

Second question, what's the opportunity cost? Padded Armor has L bulk and the lowest combined AC with no check penalty (+1AC/+5Dex/+0TAC), Leather has 1 bulk and lower TAC (+1/+6/+0) with no check penalty. Chain Shirt gives +1TAC over Studded Leather and gains Noisy and 1 more bulk.

From that, the only people who would want to use a Chain Shirt are low-dex characters who can't make use of Leather armor, or people who just really need that +1TAC. Another thing is that Expert and Master level armor reduces your check penalty by 1 and 2, respectively.

So really, all Elven Chain does is give you +1 TAC over Expert Leather armor.

Seems pretty terrible, if I'm not missing something.


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Elven chain removing noisy also doesn't even do anything. Being Master and Mithral reduces the check penalty from a chain shirt from a -1 penalty to a +2 bonus. Obviously this would zero out rather than actually becoming a bonus, but it does mean "+2 ACP" -1 noisy still results in no penalty to stealth checks.

Just by virtue of being even Expert, let alone Master, both the elven chain and mithral chain do not benefit at all from being made of mithral, except to reduce their Bulk from 2 to 1. The ACP is already negated by being expert+.

The price for the mithral chain shirt is also wrong. It should be 4.5 gp for the chain shirt + 360 gp for master + 1200 gp for 2 bulk worth of mithral (since it's based on the original weight before the mithral reduction), for a total of 1564.5 gp, not 1800 gp. This means the price of the elven chain is also probably wrong.

(Plus, mithral probably costs too much for how little it does, anyway. It no longer turns heavy armor into medium or medium into light.)


My thoughts on this fall into two distinct cases:

Case 1: This is a playtest, and the item list for this particular chapter is pre-defined for a reason. Thus no changes to the list should be made because that specifically defined list is the test parameter.

Case 2: In regular campaign play, why the heck not, it's barely even a benefit and it makes in-character sense.

Silver Crusade

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thenobledrake wrote:

My thoughts on this fall into two distinct cases:

Case 1: This is a playtest, and the item list for this particular chapter is pre-defined for a reason. Thus no changes to the list should be made because that specifically defined list is the test parameter.

Case 2: In regular campaign play, why the heck not, it's barely even a benefit and it makes in-character sense.

In this particular case, even in a playtest, I'd just give it to the player. It is going to make ZERO difference to the playtest and it makes the player happy. A happy player is more likely to stick around for the rest of the playtest :-). So, no cost, some benefit. Go for it.

Even in a playtest one can take "Run As Written" way, way too far

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