Magic Items: What do you think of them?


Pathfinder Second Edition General Discussion

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My players think PF2 magic items are uninteresting other than weapons and an occasional item here and there like a Greater Cloak of Elvenkind. What do you think of magic items? Are they unappealing and mostly unnecessary?

My players don't use many talismans or temporary magic items and have little trouble still winning. The only magic item that has an noticeable effect on combat is magic weapons and at very high level a stat enhancing item.

I would say casters using wands or spell items are more useful. But even those often get overlooked for using innate powers and abilities.

If your players don't find them very interesting, have you done anything to make them more interesting?


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Overall, I really like and appreciate the way Paizo handled this 2e for what concerns items, for several reasons:

1) There's not powercreep behind them ( meaning that a character won't have huge advantages by purchasing items. It can either go with them or not ).

2) More valude to consumable items ( given the fact items are not powerful, expending resources into scrolls, potions and elixirs, for example, is a good alternative ).

3) Because of alternatives, they are not mandatory.
This means that a character can achieve bonus items in different ways:

- Different Items ( alternatives between items giving the same bonus ).
- Feats ( skill/class ).
- Elixirs.
- Spells.

4) DC based effects ( this one can vary from player to player ).

At first I was skeptic about items with a flat DC, because it seemd low and because a character would have find themselves unable to use them from lvl 1 to lvl 20 ( at some point, they'll have to drop them for better DC ).

The more I played, the more I somehow realized that even if the enemies you are against require just a 5+ ( it's an example ) to succeed, doesn't mean they succeed all the time.

Plus, that a critical failure is always round the corner.

As mentioned before, point 4 is not something which everybody can enjoy ( as for slow progression, and because so the urge to play with FA ), but, whether it was intended or not, I can say that now I feel more comfortable with flat DC items.


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The flat dc items are a signpost that this treasure I received is just a gold amount when I get back to town. Planned obsolescence turns these treasures into thinly veiled, very expensive consumables. I'd much prefer having neutered effects that function as intended 1-20. Just don't blur the line between magic item and consumable. The thaumaturge feat that sets item dcs to class dcs salvages these items....for one class late game


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Deriven Firelion wrote:

My players think PF2 magic items are uninteresting other than weapons and an occasional item here and there like a Greater Cloak of Elvenkind. What do you think of magic items? Are they unappealing and mostly unnecessary?

My players don't use many talismans or temporary magic items and have little trouble still winning. The only magic item that has an noticeable effect on combat is magic weapons and at very high level a stat enhancing item.

I would say casters using wands or spell items are more useful. But even those often get overlooked for using innate powers and abilities.

If your players don't find them very interesting, have you done anything to make them more interesting?

It depends. Some items offer utility in a way that spells or other features simply can't compare. The Cloak of Elvenkind is one solid example of that. Even when you add its uninteresting counterpart, the Boots of Elvenkind, it makes the Cloak more powerful by having multiple uses of Invisibility, which is definitely helpful and removes some of the need for combat decision paralysis that often plagues one-time-use consumables, and festers its way into once-per-day options.

I do agree that a lot of consumables and other magic items are quite lackluster or don't do a whole lot for players unless you specifically build/plan for it, short of scrolls or wands, they aren't very practical. Even a basic potion is difficult to use when you absolutely need it, both due to AoOs making it not really do anything besides waste actions, and because of horrible action economy and free-handedness needed regardless of AoOs being present, and is really only band-aided when you throw Gloves of Storing into the mix, only usable once per fight.

Even with magic items that are good, they largely serve as means to make the math work, which continues to make them uninteresting. Characters without Potency/Striking/Resiliency runes are characters the math does not match. Characters without an Apex item are going to be lackluster or too weak compared to one that isn't based on the monster values. While a lot of the Apex items do include some other useful factors (such as skill increases and some specialty use abilities), they're still mostly math-fixer items, and aren't anything extremely versatile or interesting except in the most niche of circumstances.

Lower levels are also super weaksauce with magic items, since you don't really see anything beyond maybe a couple basic consumables or other items, that it's basically cliche or easily known what the consumable/item is before you even loot it. "Oh, that weapon is magical, it's a +1 [weapon they used]." "Oh, it's a bottled liquid that radiates magic, it's a minor healing potion." That's not very interesting, imaginative, or different from any other game or table. I'm not saying that we can't have these things, I'm saying that we should be able to have more than these things, and that wonder and awe should be restored back to the lower levels in regards to magic items. Where's my Minor Flaming rune, which adds +1 Fire Damage to my attacks with a 1D4 persistent fire critical specialization, able to trigger weaknesses? Where's my Potion of Mana, which restores a spell slot (of your choice) to your character, based on the level/grade of the Potion? Where's a Minor Resistance rune, which reduces the damage I take from a given element by 1? There is plenty of space for Paizo to explore here, and they have with other published options, which I think are cool. The problem I have is that they aren't options simply available to the player base, or aren't categorized to exist.


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Set DC or atk items suck so I just let PCs upgrade them and use the GMG tables to balance cost, DC and level. Much happier with it as a result (I used to use an excel sheet to make it exact cost translation but now I just get a rough cost estimation and it takes seconds)

Other magic items are fine imo and tend to make a pretty big difference to the players who use them. The gap between a spellcaster who has a bunch of scrolls and a couple of wands and one who doesn't at upper low and mid levels is pretty big.

Other consumables are also big power boosts and let casters do other things, mid level mutagens, potions of greater flight, dust of disappearance; all are fantastic and cheap.

Talismans and other trinkets are situational but often benefit from free action activations. Some are awful, some are not useful to specific parties, many are cheap and just nice to have when you need it.

As for static items that aren't static boosts like backfire mantle, I find the best ones are things that expand your options to other areas rather than what the character already specialises in or enable a different style of play. But I can't give many specific examples other than the standard wand/staff/rune examples because they are very campaign, character and party dependent.

But yeah wrapping it up, I strongly believe non atk/dc magic items are great, and atk/dc magic items are super easy to scale... either with crafting as I do, or simply scaling the stats with level (although I would only do this with permanent items).

Deriven Firelion wrote:
I would say casters using wands or spell items are more useful. But even those often get overlooked for using innate powers and abilities.

A caster not buying or crafting niche scrolls either:

- has a GM that never challenges them
- has made suboptimal choices to prepare niche spells or add them to their repertoire and have less generalist options
- is not contributing solutions that spellcasters normally can

All of the above is fine ofc, different styles of play and preferences.


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I've never much cared for magic items, and find them too fussy in terms of cognitive load in PF2. I'd much rather play with ABP.


I'm a big magic item fan, and I enjoy the ones in the PF2E game I'm in right now. Yeah we sell off a fair number of consumables, but we also use a portion of them too depending on our situation and enjoy it every time we do. Now that we're high enough level to be finding some impactful items the party has also started experimenting with them more and it's been helping a great deal with fights, usually in areas that character math doesn't usually touch on as much, like positioning.

I'd honestly be using more magic items, but I'm playing a summoner and sadly I can't give the stuff I'd like to my eidolon to use while my summoner self tends to stay out of fights. Even then I like utilizing talismans with my summoner to beef up my eidolon's turns, like expanding the number of targets I can intimidate so the eidolon can go to town with frenzy or their breath weapon.

We've also been able to turn a couple of difficult fights against over-leveled golems into wins thanks to having various items that produce effects with the required descriptors, which we wouldn't have otherwise.


It's a mix, have a lot of bad ones, but also have a lot of good ones.

I had players that basically made the entire build around a single item, or abusing a combination of them.

Per example using a flame Oracle with the Aura and retaliation potion of fire, every time it was hit the enemy the potion would retaliate and the aura would make them give persistent damage. It was a Tiefling and the player flavored it as a hellfire.

Had a frightened based party, that the one that usually gave the condition was a fighter with a Fear Gem and he herded a ton of them.

Greater Invisibility rune is really good, 1 action Invisibility, making anything that targets you need to do a DC11 flat check, being better than raising a shield a lot of times.


I really like magic items as long as they're not consumable or have set DCs. Doesn't help that consumables generally take too much time to use in battle to begin with.


Milo v3 wrote:
Doesn't help that consumables generally take too much time to use in battle to begin with.

Some advice to help with action cost.

- Talismans usually are free actions or reactions, poisons have no duration and are pre-apply.

- Start combat with items in hand when possible, the aforementioned dust of disappearance is a good example of a suitable item to have in hand.

- Pre dose with longer duration items (10min to 1h unless you know for sure there is an encounter around the corner)

- Independent familiars are godsend (mainly for casters and alchemists), they can hold an item before battle and hand it out on the first round for free, or they can withdrawn one round and give the next for free.


The Gleeful Grognard wrote:

- Independent familiars are godsend (mainly for casters and alchemists), they can hold an item before battle and hand it out on the first round for free, or they can withdrawn one round and give the next for free.

Pretty sure they can hold 2 items at once.

For example, a strix character, which is tiny size,can sword and board by wileding either a longsword and a shield.

I think a familiar won't have any issue holding 2 potions or 2 scrolls.


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I have never been a fan of loading my character up with magic items as I always have preferred my character’s abilities come from within and not from the tools gathered. I find the potency runes a tax (which the system was supposed to avoid) instead of a fun bonus to get, and most of the standard magic items to be bland. However, for the way the system works, I do like the staves and wands. I also do like the ability to customize magic weapons and armor via property runes.


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My experience, limited as it is, is that Paizo did good in that they mostly eliminated the big 6 problem from PF1.

However, it also means that the are few and far between magical items that are meaningful to purchase (aside from weapon and armor runes).

Some exist, but most are very situational and would be something you specifically seek out because your character wants to focus on that thing.

When I built characters I found myself really looking hard at what was worth picking up and often didn't have any standout items.

It's good in the sense that's there's no clear best in slot (cue the original version of the Jingasa of the Fortunate Soldier) but it also means that there's nothing terribly interesting either. It's a bit of a catch 22, damned if you do damned if you don't situation.


Claxon wrote:
My experience, limited as it is, is that Paizo did good in that they mostly eliminated the big 6 problem from PF1.

They really haven't, it's just a different set of required items.

Armor
Apex
Flight item
Speed item
Perception item
Skill 1
Skill 2
Skill 3
Skill 4 (classes with 4+ legendary skills)
Skill 5 (classes with 5+ legendary skills)

So really, you have between 0 and 2 free item slots as you progress which is even worse off than pf1's big 6. You at least get to use temp items in the interim before some of these exist I suppose.


But you don't have item slots any more gesalt, you have investment caps.

And armor and weapon don't require investment. And I honestly don't see flight as a 100% necessity.

And since skill bonuses are specific to each character build, it leaves only speed and perception enhancing items as absolute must haves.

Edit: Ignoring apex items since those are pretty high level and don't apply for most of the game.


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Pathfinder Lost Omens, Rulebook Subscriber

Overall I like magic items in this game, but I would welcome a method to boost static DCs. I consider it problematic when the party is looking through their gear at a critical moment, find something perfect for the situation from 12 sessions ago (and everyone reminisces about that adventure!), only to see that the effect is useless at the current level and they should have sold it 10 sessions ago.


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Claxon wrote:

But you don't have item slots any more gesalt, you have investment caps.

And armor and weapon don't require investment. And I honestly don't see flight as a 100% necessity.

And since skill bonuses are specific to each character build, it leaves only speed and perception enhancing items as absolute must haves.

Edit: Ignoring apex items since those are pretty high level and don't apply for most of the game.

If a suit of armor has any runes, it has the invested trait, requiring you to invest it to get its magical benefits.

Idk having flight without needing to wait for your caster when the need arises is pretty great.

And while everyone uses different skills, it doesn't really change that you need those math items. Might not be the same exact item every time, but that's not much of a distinction to me.


Claxon wrote:

But you don't have item slots any more gesalt, you have investment caps.

And armor and weapon don't require investment. And I honestly don't see flight as a 100% necessity.

And since skill bonuses are specific to each character build, it leaves only speed and perception enhancing items as absolute must haves.

Edit: Ignoring apex items since those are pretty high level and don't apply for most of the game.

Armor requires investment if it's magical. Even without investiture, weapons are still a good portion of a martial's WBL.

I kind of wish they didn't have Perception Item Bonuses as a necessity to scale the math.

I also don't see why ignoring high level play, when it's far more feasible than in previous editions, is an adequate reason to disregard certain item types from being considered mandatory for the game's math to function. That would also mean +3/Major Striking or Resilient runes also shouldn't matter. But they do.


gesalt wrote:
Claxon wrote:
My experience, limited as it is, is that Paizo did good in that they mostly eliminated the big 6 problem from PF1.

They really haven't, it's just a different set of required items.

Armor
Apex
Flight item
Speed item
Perception item
Skill 1
Skill 2
Skill 3
Skill 4 (classes with 4+ legendary skills)
Skill 5 (classes with 5+ legendary skills)

So really, you have between 0 and 2 free item slots as you progress which is even worse off than pf1's big 6. You at least get to use temp items in the interim before some of these exist I suppose.

But you don't need these which is why my players are unhappy. They don't feel impactful because they don't have a dramatic effect on player power like magic items in nearly every other edition of D&D.

The only item that has a dramatic effect on winning is magic weapons. The magic weapon is the only required magic item. Even armor is helpful, but not necessary for survival.

So the items you listed are not required, just helpful. That is the big complaint from my players. They literally don't even remember to buy the items because they barely affect the outcome of battles.

Has anyone written up their own magic items to make them more interesting?


Darksol the Painbringer wrote:
Claxon wrote:

But you don't have item slots any more gesalt, you have investment caps.

And armor and weapon don't require investment. And I honestly don't see flight as a 100% necessity.

And since skill bonuses are specific to each character build, it leaves only speed and perception enhancing items as absolute must haves.

Edit: Ignoring apex items since those are pretty high level and don't apply for most of the game.

Armor requires investment if it's magical. Even without investiture, weapons are still a good portion of a martial's WBL.

I kind of wish they didn't have Perception Item Bonuses as a necessity to scale the math.

I also don't see why ignoring high level play, when it's far more feasible than in previous editions, is an adequate reason to disregard certain item types from being considered mandatory for the game's math to function. That would also mean +3/Major Striking or Resilient runes also shouldn't matter. But they do.

We haven't bought any perception items and it hasn't affected the outcome of our battles at all. When you have players with a master or legendary perception in your group or a wisdom focused character with expert, you generally have no problems with Perception.

Dark Archive

I like items and I like items with DCs too even if they get oudated eventually. I also like collecting skill bonus items if I can. Because numbers fun.

Anyway, I'm here to inform you of most useless consumables in game:

Major antiplague and antidote. Why? They are level 14 items with identical bonus to much cheaper level 10 equivalent with extra effect of "you can roll another saving throw immediately vs level 14 or lower disease/poison".

...So at level 14 consumable you get new save if you get disease/poison from mook which you probably will succeed at save anyway with +4 bonus and at higher levels than 14 you literally have no reason to get major over greater. They are only great items if you get them as loot in lower levels.

This has been "I'm stalling going to sleep so I should go to sleep" ted talk


Pathfinder Rulebook Subscriber
gesalt wrote:
Claxon wrote:
My experience, limited as it is, is that Paizo did good in that they mostly eliminated the big 6 problem from PF1.

They really haven't, it's just a different set of required items.

Armor
Apex
Flight item
Speed item
Perception item
Skill 1
Skill 2
Skill 3
Skill 4 (classes with 4+ legendary skills)
Skill 5 (classes with 5+ legendary skills)

So really, you have between 0 and 2 free item slots as you progress which is even worse off than pf1's big 6. You at least get to use temp items in the interim before some of these exist I suppose.

Odds are your apex item will wind up also covering at least one of your legendary skill item bonuses. Also, by time it comes into play you've probably got a general feat open for Incredible Investiture. Once you have Fleet and tougheness there are few general feats you really need.


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Captain Morgan wrote:
gesalt wrote:
Claxon wrote:
My experience, limited as it is, is that Paizo did good in that they mostly eliminated the big 6 problem from PF1.

They really haven't, it's just a different set of required items.

Armor
Apex
Flight item
Speed item
Perception item
Skill 1
Skill 2
Skill 3
Skill 4 (classes with 4+ legendary skills)
Skill 5 (classes with 5+ legendary skills)

So really, you have between 0 and 2 free item slots as you progress which is even worse off than pf1's big 6. You at least get to use temp items in the interim before some of these exist I suppose.

Odds are your apex item will wind up also covering at least one of your legendary skill item bonuses. Also, by time it comes into play you've probably got a general feat open for Incredible Investiture. Once you have Fleet and tougheness there are few general feats you really need.

but that would require that you invest a good amount in charisma, which many builds don't


Pathfinder Adventure Path, Lost Omens, Rulebook Subscriber

Especially at middle low levels, bombs are highly underrated as a way for martials to do useful damage types without having to carry around a lot of different weapons.

My cleric loves his primeval pomegranate, mainly using it to turn into a vine every night before bed.

Clandestine cloaks and hats of disguise have seen a lot of usage in games I have run.

Scrolls are great in PF2, just be careful thinking holding one in each hand is a good idea when you are anywhere near a ledge.


Adventure Path Charter Subscriber; Pathfinder Rulebook, Starfinder Adventure Path, Starfinder Roleplaying Game, Starfinder Society Subscriber

Mainly, I think that the "big 6" from 3.x/PF1 has basically become the "big 3 plus extras." Instead of armor (or bracers/robes/etc. providing an armor bonus), amulet of natural armor, ring of protection, weapon (or other attack booster), save booster, and stat boosters, PF2 only really requires armor/explorer's clothing/bracers of armor, boots of bounding/boots of speed, and handwraps of mighty blows/weapon; all of the rest of the non-consumable magic items, including the skill boosters (and apex items*, if you actually reach 18th+ level) IMO, are "nice to have" but not really required in most cases.

Personally, this allows characters to take more "interesting" items rather than being "forced" to focus almost entirely on the "optimal" choices. Many of the low level skill boosters (the ones that grant innate cantrips** or other spell effects in addition to the skill bonus), for instance, can still be useful for a secondary/tertiary skill and/or occasional situation, even in high level play.

*- granted, apex items are more useful than most magic items, but more of a "big 3.5" than a "big 4" (IMO)
**- even for spell casters to have more cantrips available

Dark Archive

I'd argue that you don't need boots of speed/bounding either, but they are admittedly really good which makes them fun xD But you don't really need them because there are other ways to get extra speed of quickened


CorvusMask wrote:
I'd argue that you don't need boots of speed/bounding either, but they are admittedly really good which makes them fun xD But you don't really need them because there are other ways to get extra speed of quickened

They are pretty good because of the action you may save.

Assuming any character has, at some point, at least( dwarves apart ) 25 + fleet + longstrider + boots = 45/50, may result into less actions for the movement.

Boots of speed are also good because of the 1 action quickened condition ( you can also use climb and swim ).

At those levels, potion of quickness can be a solution too.

Earn income would be 15g/day at lvl 13, resulting in 1 potion every 6 days of work ( leaving apart golds you would get from loot ), making them available for the majority of combats with a single action.

A matter of choices and preferences.


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We switched to automatic bonus progression after it was recommended to me.

Our dm tried to make our first striking weapon feel super awesome. The second time around we were not as impressed.

With ABP our dm's can focus on making cool items, and not stress to much about our power level. Our table tends to prefer active abilities that are thematic to our chars, so yeah, in short: I think it's nice there is plenty of magic items, we just don't use them.


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I do think ABP helps, in the sense that math adders are no longer a consideration and instead you look for items that do interesting things.

In a game where I'm generally unimpressed with the magic item selection, getting rid of the number bonuses altogether I think does actually make it better.


Darksol the Painbringer wrote:
Claxon wrote:

But you don't have item slots any more gesalt, you have investment caps.

And armor and weapon don't require investment. And I honestly don't see flight as a 100% necessity.

And since skill bonuses are specific to each character build, it leaves only speed and perception enhancing items as absolute must haves.

Edit: Ignoring apex items since those are pretty high level and don't apply for most of the game.

Armor requires investment if it's magical. Even without investiture, weapons are still a good portion of a martial's WBL.

I kind of wish they didn't have Perception Item Bonuses as a necessity to scale the math.

I also don't see why ignoring high level play, when it's far more feasible than in previous editions, is an adequate reason to disregard certain item types from being considered mandatory for the game's math to function. That would also mean +3/Major Striking or Resilient runes also shouldn't matter. But they do.

Mea culpa on the armor investment. I must have missed that. Even looking at the rules online, I don't actually see it clearly spelled (that add the rune adds the invested trait) out but I believe you when you say it.

Anyway, I agree that weapons (with runes) are big portion of WBL and perception bonus is practically required because of what scales off of perception.

I guess the ultimate problem is, as it was in PF1, there are a few math adders that everyone agrees are required (even if we don't all agree on exactly what) and everything else is viewed as uninteresting.

Dark Archive

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extended weapon rune is super fun I have to say!


I run with ABP, but also I'm just generally not interested in magic items. There's way too many of them, and it's really hard to be like "okay guys you can buy anything you want!" and then me and my players have to pore over a list of like 60 things at level 4 or whatever. There doesn't need to be this many. I'm much more interested in how games like Gubat Banwa and ICON do their magic items (anting-anting and relics, respectively), where there's a short, discrete list of them, but they're all big build-around-me style things like ICON's trollhide that lets you dash around if you don't attack on your turn and etc etc.


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And my players like magic items. They are a major part of fantasy and D&D history. They don't like playing like their dudes are superheroes with automatically escalating power.


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Deriven Firelion wrote:
And my players like magic items. They are a major part of fantasy and D&D history. They don't like playing like their dudes are superheroes with automatically escalating power.

That's funny, because I prefer the power of my character be inherent to the character and not reliant on their gear to be awesome.

Although, Automatic Bonus Progression largely fills that for me.

I can accept needing a magic item to enable me to fly.

But I don't like needing a rune on my weapon to keep the damage I'm doing within the expected track.

Liberty's Edge

My understanding is that was the intent for 2e, but the pushback was so intense that they implemented weapon and armor runes as a compromise. It's certainly an improvement over how 1e did things, at least.


Pathfinder Pawns, Starfinder Roleplaying Game, Starfinder Society Subscriber; Pathfinder Roleplaying Game Superscriber
Claxon wrote:
Deriven Firelion wrote:
And my players like magic items. They are a major part of fantasy and D&D history. They don't like playing like their dudes are superheroes with automatically escalating power.

That's funny, because I prefer the power of my character be inherent to the character and not reliant on their gear to be awesome.

Although, Automatic Bonus Progression largely fills that for me.

I can accept needing a magic item to enable me to fly.

But I don't like needing a rune on my weapon to keep the damage I'm doing within the expected track.

I prefer the power of my character be inherent to the character and not reliant on their gear to be awesome too.

However, that's only true in games where magical gear is the standard.


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Magic weapons are cool. Magic weapons that are required to keep up with the math are not. Ditto to armor and skill boosting gear. If the creatures are built to match (which they are) then the modifier isn’t a bonus but a necessity.
I come from playing back in a day when a player may acquire a magic sword that lasts their whole career, and where everyone had at most 3-4 magic items not including potions. I know experiences vary, but as far as my experience with “traditional D&D” permanent magic items were far more uncommon and were prized far more.


Lucerious wrote:

Magic weapons are cool. Magic weapons that are required to keep up with the math are not. Ditto to armor and skill boosting gear. If the creatures are built to match (which they are) then the modifier isn’t a bonus but a necessity.

I come from playing back in a day when a player may acquire a magic sword that lasts their whole career, and where everyone had at most 3-4 magic items not including potions. I know experiences vary, but as far as my experience with “traditional D&D” permanent magic items were far more uncommon and were prized far more.

Yeah, I would be more accepting of a magic item that really did "break" the math of the game by putting you at a distinct advantage, but that would assume that the baseline would be based on not having any magic items.

In Pathfinder, I don't think that concept works. Or rather it wouldn't be popular. They are a staple of the d20 fantasy/D&D/Pathfinder "genre" of table top gaming.

You could totally change the math of PF2, remove rune bonuses to AC/saves/hit bonuses/damage but you would have to adjust monster to compensate. And honestly you would have to make damage bonus inherent to the character, because there's just not a major source of damage bonus outside weapon damage dice and the rune increase and decreasing HP would just mean that high and low level monsters have very close HP values, and I don't think that would result in a dynamic most of us would enjoy.


Claxon wrote:


Yeah, I would be more accepting of a magic item that really did "break" the math of the game by putting you at a distinct advantage, but that would assume that the baseline would be based on not having any magic items.

I actually ran a test game using limited ABP and item bonuses. I removed the striking and resilient features of ABP and replaced them with weapon and armor quality. I still allowed potency rune modifiers, but increased their rarity and made them take a “property slot” instead of providing one. This allowed for players to choose to have an over-capped attack or AC, or have special properties like flaming or glamour. I felt it gave more choice to the player and made any magic item discovery far more exciting.


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From my perspective I enjoy magic items in games. I like that a person can use items to overcome things that they normally couldn't. For the same reason I only like ABP type things for very specific characters.

From my point of view making items useless for everyone is the worst possible way to do things. It is much easier to say "X character gets Y abilities for free" than to say "X character doesn't get all of Y so they must buy it". Do you all notice the diference between the two?

Having said that, from what I have seen PF2 items are overall kind of meh. There are a lot of items that seem more like a joke or gimmick (not even added for immersion) while there are very few items that really seem worth it. Then there are all the items that get invalidated by the overly restrictive gate keeping and balance. Best example are how numerous the static DC items are with a straight up better high level version: People always complained about those items in PF1 where the save bonuses were relatively tame, but instead of removing that type of item from PF2 they doubled down.

My other issue with item is that yes they removed the big 6 (technically), but they also massively cut down on the amount of gold and items you are able to buy and use. Weapons and armor that you could left half leveled now require that they are fully leveled. Accessories that would work with just the basic version now more often then not become useless at high level. Fun items that do neet non-math stuff are largely gone or meh. Items that boost specific classes or abilities are pretty much gone baring some exceptions. Page space has gone more to duplicate items than to item diversity. And so on.

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* P.S. I am the type that if Greater Striking and stuff was mot required I would spend the gold on getting more property runes. The fact that I have to get Greater Striking if I even want to get more properties annoyes me so much.


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Pathfinder Adventure Path, Lost Omens, Rulebook Subscriber

What magic items tied to math allow in a game is variation in player rewards. There are systems that do this by giving character points which get spent quickly on smaller boosts or saved up for larger ones, but in a game heavily structured around level, giving all boosts exclusively at level ups can result in players feeling like leveling up is the only thing that matters for their characters to do.

Finding a +2 weapon half way through 9 feels can feel like a major power boost, especially if it precedes a difficult fight that will result in the party leveling up.

The bigger problem with treasure is that GMs need to be aware of what they are giving out and how it interacts with the party or else all loot just feels like a bag of gold that is half as valuable as it could be.

GMs who run APs just giving out the exact loot from the book contributes heavily to this phenomenon, but is pretty understandable because picking appropriate loot at this point is a time intensive process.

Getting a list of items your players are looking to add to their characters can help alleviate that work, since they should know the future of their characters better than you will, but can feel a little artificial if you just throw it in exactly as is. Getting the ballance right is a process and skill to develop. ABP takes that labor out, but has consequences too


Unicore wrote:

What magic items tied to math allow in a game is variation in player rewards. There are systems that do this by giving character points which get spent quickly on smaller boosts or saved up for larger ones, but in a game heavily structured around level, giving all boosts exclusively at level ups can result in players feeling like leveling up is the only thing that matters for their characters to do.

Finding a +2 weapon half way through 9 feels can feel like a major power boost, especially if it precedes a difficult fight that will result in the party leveling up.

The bigger problem with treasure is that GMs need to be aware of what they are giving out and how it interacts with the party or else all loot just feels like a bag of gold that is half as valuable as it could be.

GMs who run APs just giving out the exact loot from the book contributes heavily to this phenomenon, but is pretty understandable because picking appropriate loot at this point is a time intensive process.

Getting a list of items your players are looking to add to their characters can help alleviate that work, since they should know the future of their characters better than you will, but can feel a little artificial if you just throw it in exactly as is. Getting the ballance right is a process and skill to develop. ABP takes that labor out, but has consequences too

This is why many GMs just allowed players to buy items in a big enough city. Or making it random whether the item the players asked for is available.

If the item is not available the GM can just give the item later on. If the item is available players could be asking for another item to repeat the process. Alternately the whole thing could be chucked to "you spent X days waiting for the item".

But no a bunch of then complain "magic items are too easy to buy".


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Claxon wrote:
Deriven Firelion wrote:
And my players like magic items. They are a major part of fantasy and D&D history. They don't like playing like their dudes are superheroes with automatically escalating power.

That's funny, because I prefer the power of my character be inherent to the character and not reliant on their gear to be awesome.

Although, Automatic Bonus Progression largely fills that for me.

I can accept needing a magic item to enable me to fly.

But I don't like needing a rune on my weapon to keep the damage I'm doing within the expected track.

And my players prefer a combination of innate powerful abilities and magic items with meaningful power like Excalibur making Arthur much better than he was was as a warrior or Sting making Frodo a better fighter or Stormbringer with Elric. Or just like D&D built into the game from way back to its beginning because meaningfully powerful magic items are part of the fantasy experience.

If I'm playing superheroes or Star Wars, then I don't want magic items as they were never a meaningful part of why a character was powerful unless that was the source of their power. In my fantasy game magic items are the basis for entire stories or characters and have always been a very important part of the fantasy experience.


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I see magic items aren't much of a concern for most folks it seem. I'll have to figure out how to make them more interesting and feel more powerful. At the moment they feel like mostly unnecessary items other than a striking weapon.

Dark Archive

I mean, I doubt that is true. Otherwise magic item books wouldn't be popular


Pathfinder Adventure Path, Lost Omens, Rulebook Subscriber
Deriven Firelion wrote:
I see magic items aren't much of a concern for most folks it seem. I'll have to figure out how to make them more interesting and feel more powerful. At the moment they feel like mostly unnecessary items other than a striking weapon.

Do your players tend to sell consumables rather than use them? Is this because they forget they have them? or because they think they need to be

"saving up" and so they try not to use anything?

If it is just a case of them forgetting they have them, and you get the sense they would use them if they remembered, sometimes you can heavily hint that a certain damage type would really be useful if they can do it, or that being unable to fly in next encounter could mean falling 150ft off a cliff that they will have to climb back up to be meaningfully engaged in the encounter will get them to look at their sheet more closely and think "How can I take care of this?"

IF they have a "save every penny mentality," then start "flooding the markets" with cheap consumables made by the local alchemist/wizard, drastically reducing the resale value and the purchase value of consumables. Make sure that they are not falling behind on wealth by level or access to important bonuses and they might start to realize that using the ghostly portal paint to get through a wall that might not have another easily accessible way through, or a phoenix flask is going to be way more fun and useful than the 10% of its wealth that they get for trying to sell in a buyer's market.

As far as skill items and other "Non-essential" items, try to get a feel for what your party would really like to do more of, and then plant some items that let them do those things way better that spending feats to get lesser versions of those abilities.


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Unicore wrote:
Deriven Firelion wrote:
I see magic items aren't much of a concern for most folks it seem. I'll have to figure out how to make them more interesting and feel more powerful. At the moment they feel like mostly unnecessary items other than a striking weapon.

Do your players tend to sell consumables rather than use them? Is this because they forget they have them? or because they think they need to be

"saving up" and so they try not to use anything?

If it is just a case of them forgetting they have them, and you get the sense they would use them if they remembered, sometimes you can heavily hint that a certain damage type would really be useful if they can do it, or that being unable to fly in next encounter could mean falling 150ft off a cliff that they will have to climb back up to be meaningfully engaged in the encounter will get them to look at their sheet more closely and think "How can I take care of this?"

IF they have a "save every penny mentality," then start "flooding the markets" with cheap consumables made by the local alchemist/wizard, drastically reducing the resale value and the purchase value of consumables. Make sure that they are not falling behind on wealth by level or access to important bonuses and they might start to realize that using the ghostly portal paint to get through a wall that might not have another easily accessible way through, or a phoenix flask is going to be way more fun and useful than the 10% of its wealth that they get for trying to sell in a buyer's market.

As far as skill items and other "Non-essential" items, try to get a feel for what your party would really like to do more of, and then plant some items that let them do those things way better that spending feats to get lesser versions of those abilities.

They forget they have them.

Some initially got excited by the ammunition, then read the DCs and lost their enthusiasm. Monsters have pretty high saves. Magic item DCs are very low and quickly eclipsed, so they found them mostly useless.

They don't even by skill items because they stopped bothering to use skills since we have a fighter with a maul who often drops people on crits prone without having to spend actions to do it or take the MAP.

I think they might be happiest with a few, well-designed powerful magic items. I might try that route.


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At my tables players have not responded well to talismans. They look at the selling price (when the talisman is found as loot) and consistently make the choice that the gold (split five ways) is worth more than one character getting to trigger the item once.

I really think consumables are overpriced in PF2e in general. The disdain was very clear when one of my players tried to craft special material arrows. When he saw the price and days required he said "nevermind".

As a longtime player of first edition I am very happy with the changes to wands and the removal of the Big 6 list of items.


Adventure Path Charter Subscriber; Pathfinder Rulebook, Starfinder Adventure Path, Starfinder Roleplaying Game, Starfinder Society Subscriber

One compromise that may work for "making magic items seem magical" without being required for PF2e system math: use automated bonus progression to keep the PCs at the bonuses/damage expected by the system and also use relics (GMG pg. 94) for the limited number of permanent magic items that the PCs can/will find.

This approach decouples magic items from being necessary (mostly*) to stay effective while also eliminating the "need" to upgrade/replace items (which is also closer to the majority of myth and fiction).

*- depending on how you implement it, relics may be the only way to gain some of the property runes for armor and weapons


Pathfinder Pawns, Starfinder Roleplaying Game, Starfinder Society Subscriber; Pathfinder Roleplaying Game Superscriber
Deriven Firelion wrote:
They don't even by skill items because they stopped bothering to use skills since we have a fighter with a maul who often drops people on crits prone without having to spend actions to do it or take the MAP.

This is a phenomenon I've observed in some of the games I'm in as well. In games where there is a fighter with a maul, combat maneuvers are rarely used. In the games where there isn't a fighter, or at least one with a big hammer, combat maneuvers are much more common.

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